It’s as though we travelled down a long dark tunnel starting on October 28th. At times it felt lonely. Uncertain. Scary.
We took one step forward. Day after day. Moment after moment. Inching our way through the unknown.
As we did, a dim light appeared far off in the distance. It signified a finish line. A destination we were desperate to reach. A place where our son was healthy, happy and ready to go home. A time when our family could be together, living under one roof. Mostly, it symbolized the hope we had for our future.
As the days passed, the light shone brighter. With each good day David had, the light at the end of the tunnel seemed a little brighter. It was within our grasp.
The sweetest thing happened on December 2nd. Shortly after arriving, Reuben and the kids entered the NICU to visit with David. As they were peering into the incubator, the nurse changed David’s position and as she did so, his hand stuck straight up in the air facing the kids. Josh said, "Hi David," and at that exact moment David opened and closed his hand. A tiny little wave to his brother. Josh's eyes widened with astonishment. Josh repeated himself, "Hi David!" And wouldn't you know it, David waved again. A perfect coincidence.
I loved being able to wake up in the same place as my family. Loved, loved, loved it. David was still rocking the NICU (think "Rock the Casbah”).
He gained weight everyday following his bowel surgery. They decided to increase his feeds from ½ a ml to 1 ml every 4 hours!
When I went in to see David our primary nurse, Sam, asked how long I wanted to stay. I said I was unsure. She then said, "Well I just wanted to know if you had time to cuddle." I nearly fell over. Then Sylvia started to cry because she was so excited for me. She knew what it was like to wait so long to touch your child when everything in your being was screaming for contact. Of course, I was crying, too, because I was so overwhelmed with joy. Poor Sam got taken in by our emotion and she started crying as well. Then a mom down the row saw us crying and she joined in the tear extravaganza. Everyone in room 41 knew what I was going through. They all knew what it meant. What a moment!
I went into the lounge to tell Reuben and offer him the opportunity to go first. It could be awhile before we could cuddle again and I was always around and he wasn’t. I wanted him to have the chance because I'd be around the next time and he probably wouldn't. Reuben said I should go first. It was a Canadian stand-off.
At that moment, I disintegrated. I was so overcome with emotion I doubled over in the hallway sobbing. After 36 days I'd get to hold my son, for real. Not touching. Actual skin to skin contact for an extended period of time. All I kept thinking was, “God is good!”
I changed into a gown and prepared for at least a one hour hold. They liked babies to be held for a minimum of 60 minutes so they get through an entire sleep cycle. Plus, moving a baby from inside to the outside of the incubator and back put stress on the baby but the stress was minimized and out-weighed by the benefits of a long hold.
Once I was settled in a chair, they placed David on my chest, tied him on and covered us in warm towels. The next 15 minutes were excruciatingly stressful. Until they could find the right position, he kept desatting (those are periods of low oxygen) and bradying (which is extremely low heart rate). I was just about to get them to put him back when voila, he settled. For the next 2 and 1/2 hours I sang, talked and slept. It was warm, comfy and nearly midnight so I couldn't stay awake. It was a wonderful feeling. The best experience to date. At 1:30am I went home and crashed. It was a great, great day.
We were moving through the tunnel toward the light on the other side. I had my fingers crossed that the light was hope and not a train.