The last week has been the most emotional thus far in this journey. Right off the heels of the angiogram during which I was told things had slightly progressed but they could be much worse, we decided it was time to stop putting off the insurance company’s push to transfer Struthers to a less acute facility. Our case worker had brilliantly deflected their requests long enough to keep Struthers in the same facility until after we knew what things were going to look like for me. Had my renal or carotid arteries been only slightly worse than they were (see previous posts for background), an intervention would have landed me again as an inpatient, and I wanted to be in the same hospital as my son. But don’t get me wrong, insurance was not the only reason we transferred Struthers to Colorado Springs this week. There was also broad agreement with his primary nursing team, physicians and NNPs that he was stable and this might be a good transition for all of us. Add to that the realization that Colorado Springs is 2200 feet higher in elevation than Denver, and we were all concerned with his being released directly from Denver in a few weeks and we wanted to give him the time to adjust under full medical supervision. So with that, the transfer was setup for Wednesday, Struthers’ 2-month birthday.
All day on Monday and Tuesday, I would go through the normal NICU motions, and couldn’t help but think of all the routines, people and things I would miss. I went in earlier and stayed later those last few days, just soaking it all in. Imagine that…I’ve wanted nothing more than to not be there for the last 3 months, to not have to walk through those doors and back out without my child. And suddenly, I’m walking out the doors WITH my child one day, and I’m overwhelmingly sad to leave. The good news is that Struthers had one last shift with each of his primary nurses and his favorite respiratory staff–and considering their schedules, this could only be God’s doing. And that was confirmation to us that we were doing the right thing.
What I’ll miss:
–Getting off the elevator on the 4th floor and seeing all the physicians, fellows, residents, nurses and staff who cared for me during my stay. They are the ones responsible for getting Struthers here safely. It’s only fitting that I had to walk through that area to get to the NICU…
–Mandy, Lauren and Al, who know my son so very well and loved on him every minute he was there. These nurses also did a great job of explaining things to me and equipping me to be a good mom to a preemie who will need lots of extra care over the next few years.
–Ronald McDonald House–I won’t really miss living out of a hotel room, but I’ll miss the people we met there…they are now lifelong friends.
–Morning rounds where physicians, residents, fellows and NNP’s let you be a part of determining your child’s course of treatment for the day.
–Believe it or not, the lactation specialists, who spent lots of quality time with me, and helped me through the most physically and emotionally challenging part of having a preemie. I will miss Kim, Candice, Erin, Kathy and the crew tremendously.
–Other NICU parents–also now lifelong friends I look forward to seeing over the next few years of “Preemie Party” reunions. Specifically, little Emma was born a day before Struthers at 1 lb and 24 weeks. She’s doing well now and the nurses are all convinced that these two little strawberry blonde preemies were made for each other. We agree with Emma’s parents that we’d be happy to consider that after about 18 years of Preemie Party reunions first.
–TeaTime! For the past 3 months (as an inpatient too), a tea cart would come around, offering stressed out moms a little sliver of peace and warmth. It was always a welcome treat.
–Security Guards, who walked me to my car every evening Eli was not there. These kind souls were some of my favorite people I met, and they shared encouragement from the depths of their souls each and every time. One of them even knew that I was missing Christmas music and enlisted one of the volunteers to play the piano for me to sing in the atrium lobby, and he wouldn’t walk me to my car until I sang. And that was one of the only evenings I walked out smiling.
On the day of his actual transfer, the Flight for Life team was absolutely amazing…they told me during the hour-long trip that this was one of their favorite calls. We video’d and took photos (there will undoubtedly be a montage put together), and the crew was not accustomed to parents wanting to remember any part of what they do. It’s not very often they get to transport children ‘home’, or away from the critical care hospitals. And while our little family of three isn’t quite home yet, we are grateful and blessed to daily wake up in this beautiful place Struthers will one day call home.