Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thank You NICU Family

It's quiet. The kids are {finally} asleep. My mind has been thinking on this the last few days. I had it all written out in my head during my shower the other day, but alas, no time to write this down. It's been a bit of a crazy week. Just a bit. A tiny world-sized bit. And I guess I've been procrastinating a bit because it's almost too good to be true, that our girl is FINALLY coming home. Which she would not be doing without you and all you've done to heal her, breathe life into her (literally), and carry us along this journey. So since the rest of this last week before she comes home will be chaos, now is my chance to say...

Thank you. 

I thought through idea after idea of what can we give you as a token of our appreciation, as a momento to remember Chloe, as something to wrap up the last five months, but you deserve so much more that something that will sit upon the shelf and gather dust...

Dr. Mc~You deserve a brand new pair of pointe shoes. Because Chloe is a "delicate dance" as you so often said. You were the first to meet our Chloe girl and not take your eyes off of her. You showed such compassion for her. We are forever grateful. You also deserve some sort of medal for the way you sailed through her first week of test after test after test, then led Chloe's first care conference, complete with 14+ nurses, doctors, and specialists. Thank you for fighting for us since Day 1. Thank you for crying with us. It showed us how much you care for your patients and their families, and that tiny act meant the world to us. A simple thank you isn't enough. It never will be.

Dr. P~You deserve a certification from Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs for inspecting Chloe's stooly (new word, not in your medical dictionary yet) diapers. You also deserve your own light up question mark because Chloe seemed to have the most questions on your shift. But you never failed to mix humor with reality. To agree that she is a gray zone baby, but to make the most of this situation as well and bring laughter to her bedside. It's because of you that she tore down that tower! Thank you. And our cat is still alive ;).

To all of the NICU Neonatologists who had Chloe~You've ALL been amazing. It's not the easiest breaking the news to parents that, well, you've "just never seen a baby like Chloe before." Well, then let her pave the way. And with that, you have paved the way as well to know how to address babies like her in the future. Give yourselves a pat on the back. And Dr. O~Nothing gave me more joy than to suddenly see a smile burst across your face at the end of the pre-discharge meeting. In that simple gesture, I knew that you were saying it's HOME time. We still have a long road ahead, but that smile alone made us feel so excited at what all Chloe has accomplished because of doctors like you. Thank you.

PACT~You deserve a gift certificate to your favorite shoe store because you wore out your current pair chasing us down, always coming back to find us if you hadn't caught us by the bedside. Always checking in on us regardless of your crazy day and schedule. I cannot thank you enough for the encouragement, insight, laughter, and espresso, even if the latter only happened once and I'm still not convinced that you really have a machine in your office. Do you even have an office? Because you're EVERYwhere. And we're thankful for that. And thankful for the day you announced during rounds that, "Hey, you did your hair today! Good for you!" ;). And to L for the chocolate and ears to listen. Thank you so much for your encouragement when I sobbed into my notes as reality hit after this last meeting. Anyone who willingly encourages me to drink coffee and shop at IKEA is dandy in my book ;). Thank you.

To the night shift Charge Nurses~You are amazing. You made me feel so comfortable being one of few late night owl parents in the NICU. You never made me feel weird for staying so late. You reminded me that this is my baby, my child, and to stay and rock as late into the night as I needed. Saying you missed me last week was the sweetest thing ever because it showed that you're not in this job for the income, you're here to save lives, sweet, precious little lives, and to care for them and take charge over the sweetest and most tender floor in the hospital. You talked me through coding events. You made sure we understood everything that was happening. You stopped in to check on her often after that. You remembered us, there, back in the corner at D39 and always said hello.

To the front desk staff~You all deserve the best coffee and chocolate around!! You didn't just sign us in, you asked about our child. You supported us. You loved on our other littles. You smiled when we smiled, and you ran with me to the elevator when I ran out of the NICU in tears and was practically hyperventilating just to make sure I'd be OK. You checked in on Chloe. You made sure I didn't text-walk myself into the wall. You are all so amazing and we cannot thank you enough that each and every single time we walked through those doors on 3 Henson, you greeted us with love. Even if you did watch me through the camera and laugh when the door got stuck on me. Thank you.

To Child Life~You deserve an award for patience for all you did for our other littles on the day you taught them about their Chloe dolls. You patiently went over each piece of tubing, wires, IV's that Chloe had with our littles and taught them why and what and how and answered a MILLION questions. You made an impact on them. Our son still is saying he wants to be a doctor. And I noticed it the minute you handed him his first set of gloves and you were going to help him put an IV in his baby Chloe doll. You checked in often to ask about them and to discuss how they were coping. Thank you.

To each of our nurses~If there wasn't a rule that said we couldn't have 50 primaries, then we would! We were touched and blessed by so, so many of you. Each of you brought love and support to her bedside. We sat for hours watching how you interacted with Chloe and your other babies. Your skill is above and beyond. Your knowledge and wisdom and the way you advocate for our daughter during rounds never ceased to amaze us. You took extra shifts just to have Chloe. You knew she'd met her primary max, but still requested her if and when you could. You stopped us in the halls on surgery days to ask how she did. You said you were praying for her and thinking of us. You shared with us things that Chloe has taught you and it made our parent hearts swell with joy.

To the NICU janitor~I still don't know your name, but you are the sweetest. You always made sure to not disturb Chloe or us as you worked. You won the best scrub award time and time again ;).

To her nurse practitioners including cardiac team~You amaze us. You kept it real, but never gave up.You were her #1 fans. You coined the phrase, "But it's Chloe..." and knew that meant that she doesn't exactly follow a well beaten path. And even if you call us ten years from now, I'll still know your voice and probably freak out a bit ;). Might I suggest texting if it's a non-emergency ;).

To NICU RT's~Cannot thank you enough for your wisdom and expertise. For talking us and our shaky hands through our first trach care attempts. For answering so, so, SO many questions time and time again, even if you'd just explained it fifty times to us the hour before. For being calm and patient during extubation attempts. For allowing me to help soothe her during it and reminding me that a mama's touch is so, so important. For simply being a familiar face in such a scary world and thus thankful that our paths crossed again. For encouraging us that we can do this when we get her home.

Finally, to her Primaries...

{Pause for not yours, mine. I can't type through tears.}

You deserve the medal of bravery. Of honor. Of valor. I'm having trouble even summing up all that you've all meant to us. You were the ones that checked her pulse, and ours. That listened to her heart, and ours. That fought for her, and us. That loved on her, and us. That bought her clothes ;), even if they were wayyyy too big and after all your experience with petite babies should have known better than to think she was that big ;). That welcomed us each bright new day, and stayed up with us sharing stories and talking by her bedside late into the night so she could learn the sound of laughter. That held our hands. That got our sense of humor, and had some of your own. That we watched an engagement proposal unfold before our eyes and got to discuss the fun wedding details with. That we heard stories of your own kiddos happenings and birthday parties. That shared about your weekends spent on the ball diamond. That bought and spoiled Chloe with gifts. That made her first official bow on her first hat and helped the day she was delivered. That made her her own special blankets. That prayed with her. That bought her bows and slippers.

That fought for her. That bagged her. That stayed by her side as she coded. That helped intubate her. That made eye contact with me far across the room, over the heads of multiple nurses and doctors as you breathed for her by bagging until her tube was in. Whose eyes conveyed, "She's OK," and thus allowed us to breathe. That prayed with us. That cried with us. That wrapped your arms around me as I sobbed.That cringed a little each time you took her blood gasses constantly every couple of hours as you watched her vent settings and tried to help figure out her desats. That skipped your lunch break to do urine cultures, blood cultures, and trach cultures. That carefully charted each and every desat every fifteen minutes for an entire night, then miraculously got me a parent room so that I'd be close and tucked me at 3am. That helped us ask the hardest questions parents should never have to ask. That held her hand. That stayed an hour late on more than one occasion to chart. That missed lunch and took breaks late and nearly peed yourself because you didn't want to leave her side when she was unstable and made us threaten to get you a catheter and feeding tube so you wouldn't need to leave her side. That made sure she was warm when her little body was cold and having trouble maintaining heat.

That snuck me pumpkin spice coffee by her bedside on surgery day. That made her a little matching trach on her tiny elephant. That kept a watchful eye on her from afar on days that you didn't get her, but went into protective mama mode for us anyway. That didn't mind that we called in seven times a day when we weren't there with her, and never got upset if we forgot and called in during shift changes or trach care.

That taught us how to take her temperature. That taught us how to change her tiny diaper with so, so many wires to dance around. That decorated her NICU bed and made banners with her name so all the floor could see who she was and announce her arrival to the world. That carefully and strategically handed us our daughter and all her ensemble of cords and tubes to hold. That reassured us she was ok as we rocked her and listened to the monitors. That taught us trach care and g-tube care and wipe baths. That still don't make fun of me for how many Q-tips I use. That provided Alan with XL gloves even though it was probably a challenge to even find them. That danced for us! That sang to Chloe girl. That called her by her middle name when she was naughty. That gave her pep talks. That gave us pep talks. That washed her laundry for us when we weren't there. That always made sure her elephant taggie was comforting her. That made sure she wasn't in any pain. That read to her. That had morning sunrise playtime with her. That introduced her to her boppy even if she gave you the stink eye. That made her hand prints and feet prints and scrapbooked the pages of her baby book each month for the last five months. That let me do even the smallest acts, like weighing her diaper, so that I could feel more involved as her mommy. That scrapbooked Father's day and birthday cards from her to us. That always remembered to tell us her weight in pounds and ounces, and never hesitated to look it up each time we asked. That made sure she was dressed exactly as I wished on picture day since I couldn't be there.

That ALWAYS made sure her bow was on.

That got us through this. That reminded us we can do this. That reminded us He's got this.

That loved on Chloe.

That loved on us.

That loved on our littles.

That became a part of our family, as we became a part of the NICU family.

What once was such a scary and frightening place so soon after her birth soon became such a tender place, and will FOREVER stay in our hearts. And it's thanks to all of you. Do not ever think you just come to work and help babies. Because it's more than that. You save lives. And not just the babies...



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