It was one of the best and one of the worst days of my life. The nurses and doctor's in the NICU said it was close to taking Hailey home. She was getting stronger...she was gaining weight...it was time for me to start watching the mandatory DVD's before they released her. I had suddenly became very superstitious and I wouldn't watch them until the day before...I didn't want to jinx her homecoming. I watched the movies but I also took home paperwork that scared me to the core. It was directions and a map for Children's hospital. They were releasing her but we couldn't go home to celebrate just yet...we had to go straight to Children's to have an echo done on her heart.
This is the little peanut the last night I left her at the hospital...I was so happy and so incredibly scared.
The night before, we spent the evening with the boys as we had the last couple of weeks. They asked how Hailey was, we showed pics and then we asked how their day was. They asked if she was coming home soon...we didn't answer. We couldn't. We knew she was leaving the NICU but that is all we knew. There was so much unknown. The neonatologist told us there was a slight change the cardiologist would send us straight to admission and she wouldn't come home that day. As much as it broke my heart, I couldn't break the hearts of the two big brothers that wanted their family together...we couldn't disappoint them that way.
St. Patrick's Day, Brayden headed to school and Ian headed to our friend's house. To them, it was a normal day...well the normal they knew now. Jason and I drove to the hospital...nervous, butterflies in our stomachs. We had the carseat installed in the car (I wouldn't do it until I knew she was coming home....I just couldn't set myself up for that disappointment). We brought the NICU staff a "thank-you" cake and hugged them all. They had seen us through some rough nights and days over the previous 3 weeks. They watched us get over the shock of her diagnosis...they talked to us about experiences they have had. They loved that little girl...they rocked her...they sang to her...they fought over her. She was an easy baby. She never cried...she wasn't critical. She was just taking some time getting bigger and getting stronger. We said our good-byes...mom shed her tears. These women were my support system...I now was in charge of this tiny thing without the monitors and nurses I had leaned on...depended on.
The drive to Children's hospital seemed long that day...it was only 20 minutes away. It seemed foreign...huge...unimaginable...like walking the green mile. You see, I don't like the unknown....I don't like the uncontrollable...this was both. We maneuvered ourselves and our tiny little pink bundle through the parking garage and the maze of buildings to the Heart Institute. We checked in and then were called back. It is a very on-time...stick to schedule group. She was weighed, measured, EKG, pulse ox....we were now accustomed to this new vocabulary. It was time for the echo. I think that was a grueling 90 minutes....the fellow that conducted the echo did not speak good English and for working in a children's hospital, seemed very nervous about dealing with newborns. My poor baby was only wearing a diaper and he didn't even cover the exposed parts of her body. I'm surprised she didn't freeze! We watched as he moved the wand around her chest and tapped the keyboard and watched the screen. I didn't understand what the colors on the screen were so I tried not to look at it. I tried to daydream but it didn't work. He was finally finished...he stood up and left...not a word to either of us. The nurses then moved us to a new room and we waited. A few minutes later two doctors entered...another fellow and Hailey's cardiologist. There wasn't much chit chat...they jumped right into it. There was a diagram of a heart on a dry erase board. "Your daughter does have a heart defect...we are quite certain it will need surgery to repair". I was glad I was sitting....I sat there staring at Hailey. How could it be? Why her? Hasn't she been through enough? Won't she go through enough with just DS? The questions raced through my mind like they had so many times in the past 19 days. I have to admit, the fellow that was working that day was fabulous...he was confident, he was poised, he was personable. I left there scared to death but reassured that they would fix it and she would be okay. My husband took it worse. He was more scared and more worried. Don't get me wrong...I was worried...I was scared but I was calm. I was more worried about taking her home and not seeing the signs of heart failure...I was worried at the moment about the in-between time...worried about waiting for her surgery. When would it be...how big would she be...will she be okay in the meantime...how sick will she get before her surgery?
We headed home. It was beautiful day and the boys were outside with their friends. We went home...we celebrated For the first time...we were a family of 5! We were all home together! It was the best feeling in the world. We didn't tell them about DS and we didn't talk about her heart. I didn't want to dampen the feelings of joy they had at that moment...we didn't have to be separated anymore. All was well in our little world for the moment.
|I didn't want to take away these smiles, just yet.|
St. Patrick's Day last year was definitely bittersweet. I wish I could go back and talk to myself then....to tell myself that it would be okay. She would rock that surgery! She would get stronger...we would be okay. To enjoy the moments in between then and her surgery. Oh well....I can't go back. We made it through it....but I will never forget it....
Look how far we've come....
|That beautiful smile!|
|Mom, what's up with all this green?|
|You know...I'm not fond of the headbands!|
|Such good big brothers!|
|They still love this little girl!!! Who needs luck of the Irish when I have these 3?|