My baby came home from the NICU 5 years ago TODAY!
The days leading up to today have been very busy- but they have still allowed time for appreciation and reflection.
It’s difficult to feel so lucky as millions of people are dealing with terrible winds and flooding from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They are all in my prayers.
Below is what I wrote last week as I’ve been anticipating this 5 -Year NICU Anniversary and what it means to me:
Why Autumn is My Spring
The season of Spring symbolizes new life and new beginnings for many people, but for me it’s different.
Autumn is my Spring.
For me (a teacher)- the beginning of Autumn means a fresh start to a new school year and also the beginning of my life with my daughter.
My daughter Joy was born 17 weeks early as a micro preemie in May of 2012. She weighed just 1 pound and 4 ounces at birth and was only 11 ¾ inches long. After spending 121 days in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), she came home to join our family on September 9th 2012.
That was the day that my family became complete. All of our fears and sadness began to dissipate on that September day- 5 years ago today!
My boys made signs and banners and our family filled our house with balloons. It was a celebration of a new start.
Prior to her birth, I stood a very high chance of losing my life to Placenta Percreta (and I almost did on four different occasions), and I was hospitalized for several weeks because of it. Joy was also very likely not to survive her extremely premature birth.
We are both survivors.
The first four months of my daughter’s life is still a bit of a fog. I believe that I was going through the motions of what needed to be done to keep my family from falling apart, although I can’t remember much of what was going on outside of the NICU.
I was in function mode.
Joy’s extremely premature birth not only caused her to deal with a plethora of serious medical issues, but it also left me very sick and my three other children without a full-functioning and available mother for several months.
But, that all began to change in the fall of 2012.
September 9th marks the 5-year anniversary of the day my rock star micro preemie came home from the NICU.
That day will be burned in my memory forever.
It was almost like the day I gave birth or the day when a new mother brings home her healthy new baby- a feeling of a new beginning and a fresh start.
I would give almost anything to have had a “regular and full-term” delivery and have that be the way my daughter joined our family after a three day hospital stay- and to somehow be able to remove all of the pain and suffering she endured during her four months in the NICU.
I would give almost anything to be able to have those precious months back with my other three children and to not have the memories and guilt of leaving them and “choosing” to be by my daughter’s side while she was stuck in a human incubator designed to keep the rest of the world away.
But that is not what happened to us and we must make the best of what happened.
I cannot believe that today is the 5-year anniversary of my daughter’s NICU homecoming. In many ways it seems like yesterday, yet in many ways it also seems like an eternity ago.
I’m curious if any other preemie or NICU parents feel the same.
Do you remember your baby’s discharge date as I do?
Do you also feel as if it’s a day to commemorate your child and celebrate their strength and will to live?
Today- Joy is a happy and healthy (with some minor medical issues caused by her premature birth) little girl and she also loves the fall!
Autumn will always symbolize strength and new beginnings for our family- and there’s no better season to take commemorative photos in places like apple orchards, pumpkin patches or just over a pile of leaves.
Happy 5 –Year NICU Homecoming to Joy and our family and Happy Fall to you!
A fresh start can be good for us all.
You can find a similar post I wrote for The Mighty called