With Emily's second birthday fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to do a few flashback posts between now and then. This week I wanted to take a look back at the 6 weeks Emily spent in the NICU. In some ways, it seems like such a long time ago, but looking over these pictures brings up some of those old emotions and it feels like it was just yesterday...
Our first picture as a family of three. After 21 hours of labor and waiting for what seemed like forever while the doctors got Emily breathing after birth, I think all 3 of us were still in shock (and just a little bit exhausted!).
Here is our beautiful girl the morning after her birth (don't you love the spiky hair?). I wish I could scan Mike's baby picture so you can see just how much she looks like her dad. She spent the night in the special care nursery so they could keep an eye on her. That is when she started having seizures. She is holding Mike's hand in this picture. I was not able to visit her in the nursery because they gave me some heavy duty drugs that knocked me out for the night and then I passed out when they tried to get me out of bed the next morning. Not long after this picture was taken, Emily was taken to the Kosair Children's Hospital NICU (they brought her by my room so I was able to see her for about 5 minutes before they whisked her away).
This was my first visit with Emily in the NICU. When we arrived at Kosair, we could not see her because they were running some tests (she had a LOT of tests in those first few days). We spent about an hour in the waiting room and I was an emotional wreck! In the 24 hours since her birth, I had spent about 10 minutes with my daughter. Talk about hormones running rampant! If you have ever been in the NICU, you know that it can be overwhelming. Machines are constantly beeping and nurses are running here and there taking care of the tiniest little babies you have ever seen. It was a lot to take in! The first day or two, we had to wear gowns and gloves. Emily was heavily drugged and she was on a vent (along with a ton of other wires and attachments as you can see). I was so upset that I couldn't touch her and that I had no idea what color eyes she had.
This picture makes me smile because she sort of looks like she is at a spa with the eye and ear coverings on. Of course, that couldn't be further from the truth! The doctors wanted to keep her as calm as possible in the beginning to give her time to heal from the trauma that she had been through. She was off the vent at this point, but was still receiving oxygen. When she had seizures she would stop breathing so they kept the vent nearby just in case (that is why you can see the tubes in the picture). She also had an NG tube in her nose (for feeding) and you can see all of the other wires tracking her heart rate, oxygen levels, etc. We were so nervous to pick her up at first because of all the wires, but it didn't take long to get the hang of working around all that stuff.
We love this picture! One of Emily's nurses put this dress on her after her bath one night. The hospital had many donated clothes and this was one of the few that was big enough to fit Emily. She just looked adorable in it. This was also the first time we had seen her really awake and alert. She had her first MRI on this day. The next day, we found out that she had cerebral palsy caused by lack of oxygen while she was in the womb. We were thankful to finally have an answer, but still really struggled to process all of the information that was thrown at us.
The nurses loved to play with Emily's hair. Here she is sporting a mohawk. haha She was still on oxygen at this point. By this time, she also had a PICC line (the white bow on her head is where her PICC line was). Mike is holding her in this picture - you can see she was already smitten with him.
This is a picture of me feeding Emily a bottle for the first time (and a pretty good view of the PICC line). After getting some tips from the speech therapist, we did OK with it. Unfortunately, she didn't really get a good handle on drinking from a bottle and she ended up getting a g-tube. There were many factors that lead to that decision. Looking back now, there are a lot of things we would have done differently, but hindsight is 20/20.
This is our little sleeping beauty when she moved to her own room in a separate part of the NICU. She was originally in a bay with 5 other babies. This part of the NICU (they refer to it as a step-down unit) had 9 or 10 private rooms. There was no door on the room, but we had a recliner, a couch, and a TV all to ourselves. There was a lot less noise and busyness, except for the doors. The doors to this area were pretty loud and Emily would get startled EVERY time they opened.
I had to include this picture because this is one my FAVORITE outfits. I love Winnie the Pooh and Piglet is my favorite character. It is rare to find clothes with Piglet on them, so when I saw this, I had to buy it. She wasn't very excited about the hat, but she looked so cute. Purple really is her color!
Emily would get herself into the strangest positions in her crib. She is propped up on a Boppy pillow with a noodle at her feet (noodle was our name for the piece you see with hearts on it - it was a metal, bendy rod with padding around it that could be put in just about any shape). If she did slide down, like you see her here, we would move her back up, but she would get herself right back into the same position over and over again.
This is one of the last pictures we took of Emily in the NICU. Since she still has the NG-Tube in her nose, this was taken at least a couple weeks before she came home. The closer we got to taking her home, the more we worked on taking care of her and learning everything we needed to learn. So the picture taking slowed down a bit. On the day that we took her home, we didn't take any pictures at all. We didn't put her in a special "going home" outfit either. We just strapped her into her carseat and ran out the door as fast as we could. We didn't want the doctors to change their minds!
When I think back on that time in the NICU, there is a lot that I cannot remember. I think I was in shock for about the first 3 weeks of Emily's life. I was just in survival mode - spending time with her each day and trying to recover from the delivery. There was so much going on that I just could not process it all. All I could do was cling to God with all my might and trust that He knew what He was doing. He created Emily exactly the way that He wanted her to be and I trusted that He would equip us to be the best parents we could be. Though we had a bumpy start, we wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Emily is such a blessing and I look forward to watching her grow into the woman that God created her to be.