Each month, for many years now, I've gotten her magazine. Sometimes they sit on the table for weeks or months before I read them, but every time I open it up I find an article that inspires and touches me. This month was no different.
After a few tough days at the hospital (set off by another scary spell on Wednesday night) I took some time on Thursday afternoon to grab some lunch at my favorite deli, sit outside to enjoy the most beautiful weather I can remember, and to read my magazine. A few pages in I found article called "Lying Low," talking about how to deal when things are falling apart, and you can't do anything to put them back together. Timely.
One of the most difficult things dealing with the NICU is that I have so little control. Andrew's path is his own, and the doctors and nurses respond to his needs as he presents them. I'm just following along side, doing my best to provide love, love, love to my little guy. There's not much else I can do. It's scary.
Losing/giving up control is something I've kind of worked through for awhile now - when you deal with infertility you quickly learn that there is much you can't control, and you "hurry up and wait" months at a time while waiting for treatments, going through treatments, waiting to see if the treatments worked, and starting that cycle over again. I thought I got pretty good at it, but apparently not! :-)
Anyway, the article in Oprah caught my attention, and one part really resonated. It talked about working through fear - and that our brains can not simultaneously experience fear and appreciation. Making a list, or talking through what gives you comfort, support, and hope allows you to move past the fear. Throughout this journey, Andrew, J and I have been presented so much love and support and while it's been appreciated (a ton), it's not been officially recognized. We spent some of the afternoon on Thursday taking a walk and talking about our gratitude and what we've gained in this hard journey since Andrew entered the world.
We have so much to be thankful for:
- My OB, Dr. R, for acting so quickly when I experienced spotting at 23 weeks. Seeing me immediately, and diagnosing the dilation, allowed me to get the cerclage that I'm convinced bought me five extra days of pregnancy. With a baby this young, every day makes a difference.
- Dr. T, the OB on call the weekend Andrew was born. He took many fearful calls from J and myself that weekend, and didn't hesitate to have us come in when I began to experience a fever. He also pushed to have us transferred from Reston hospital to INVOA Fairfax so Andrew could receive care from the best NICU around from the moment he was born. I have no doubt this factor saved his life.
- Dr N, the OB who performed my emergency c-section. Less than 30 minutes after I arrived at Fairfax, Andrew was born. Although my placenta showed signs of infection, it did not pass onto Andrew which was a blessing. Her calm, determined demeanor helped calm both J and I in the most terrifying moments of our lives.
- Dr B, the neonatologist who was there at delivery to immediately care for Andrew. He's our doctor now too, and we have so much faith in him, and all the doctors in the NICU.
- Andrew's primary nurses (and his pseudo-primaries) who care for him every minute of every day, and love that little guy, celebrate each milestone with us, and keep J and I sane during good days and bad. They are truly special people, and I hope we keep in touch with them for years to come.
- Each doctor, nurse, and respiratory therapist there in the NICU. You have to be pretty amazing to do that job day in and day out. I know every nurse and RT in our room has tended to Andrew at some point or another - if not for an entire shift, then to calm him when he is upset, tweak his settings when he needs it, or even just to give me a reassuring smile on a day when I need it. Angels.
- Our jobs. I'm so lucky to work somewhere with amazing benefits, where I am able to take this time off to be with Andrew, and still be secure in a job when I return. We are also thankful that we are in a secure financial place (especially in these tough times) where we can afford for me to take time off comfortably. J's job has provided him great flexibility the past few months, which has made the transition of him going back to work much easier for both of us. Just yesterday, they gave us (Andrew) an amazing gift - a beautiful quilt which we can't wait to use and display. Thank you!
- Our family. Even though they live far away, they have provided us so much support and love. My parents got in the car minutes after I called them to say my water broke, and arrived at the hospital from NJ just after Andrew was born. They got to see him that first night in the NICU (even before I did) and were so comforting to have there during those extremely scary first days when his life was in the balance. We are so happy that all of our immediate family was able to visit in the weeks after his birth and meet Andrew. Your calls, emails and support keep us going. We wish you were closer, and can't wait for you to see him again when he comes home.
- Friends. Neighbors. Old friends that we haven't seen in years, friends we see often, friends met on my IF message board, even friends-of-friends (-of friends). The love and support is palatable!! The visits, dinners, calls, emails, messages, texts and even replies on this blog and Facebook let us know we are not alone. The inspirational success stories that you have shared about other preemies, words of encouragement to J and I (and our families), hugs (real and virtual), and many gifts for Andrew (books, clothes, toys) help us through tough days. We appreciate all of you who have sent us positive vibes, added Andrew to your prayers or prayer lists, and are thinking about him often. We know there will be a huge celebration across the country the day he comes home. We are humbled by the support.
- Friends in the NICU. You all deserve a shout-out of your own. We've met some amazing families during our time there. People we would have never crossed paths with otherwise. Friends we will stay in touch with for the rest of our lives. Only parents who have gone through a similar experience truly understand, and we gain strength in your bravery, celebrate your children's milestones, feel your pain during tough days. Our "tiny warriors", as one of our new friends call our little ones, all have some fantastic parents. We can't wait to watch them all grow up.
- My husband. You are my perfect partner, and I can't imagine life without you. I know I couldn't get through this without you. I love you.
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