We got the call Valentine’s Day morning. After 16 days in the NICU, the doctors advised that if all goes well, our baby would be able to go home the next day, so we should be prepares and also, to bring a car seat. We could not believe it. Even though we hoped and asked everyday since his birth, we subconsciously accepted the reality that preemies are usually kept until the full 40 weeks are up. Sometimes, they are let out two to four weeks earlier than their due date, but it’s more of an exception than the rule. To be let out more than four weeks earlier seemed like an unbelievable gift. No more spending the entire day with our baby in the NICU. No more sharing our time with other families with preemie babies. No more doctors, nurses, social workers, wires, and monitors. Best of all, no more leaving our little baby in the hospital overnight, alone in an isolatte, in the care of strangers.
I was bubbling with (cautioned) excitement.
We were nervous because there were still “tests” that they wanted to run and things they wanted to check off their list. Mainly that Harry could maintain a normal body temperature in an open crib. That he was able to bottle and breastfeed his milk, and not resort to the feeding tube. That he is gaining weight and is of a proper weight. That he is able to breath on his own. That he shows no signs of apnea. Luckily, he passed all of these tests.
The last was the car seat test. They wanted to see (other than if we, as new parents, could even work the carseat) if Harry is able to maintain his temperature and heartbeat in the car seat. We tested him throughout the day, that night and the next morning before we were discharged. I was so happy that we will never have to look at the numbers on that screen again.
And after all the pomp and circumstances, the fuss, the paperwork and after 2 1/2 weeks in the NICU, our baby came home. He was a little shy of 36 weeks old. He was so very tiny.
And parenthood continued, rather . . . really started for us.