Dear Fellow Fans of Audrey Claire,
Today Audrey is 37 weeks by pregnancy and 5 days old taking breaths. I sit in the NICU watching my husband watch our daughter while our son, dressed appropriately in a superhero costume, asks me what I am doing. “Making milk for little sis.” Confused yet intrigued, he says, “Hum, okay.” And he runs over to his daddy’s arms and wants to see the baby. I hear him whisper to his teeny sister, “Hi, sweet girl…” Something he undoubtedly picked up from us but sounds sweet as honey coming from him.
The first night at home has come and gone. When I was first discharged, I wasn’t too emotional because it was the afternoon and I knew we would be back before the day’s end. It was leaving at the end of the day that opened the flood gates. I knew I would be back the next morning. I knew she was in the best hands, getting the best care. I knew these things, yet something still felt unnatural about it all.
When you have a baby, your body is designed to care for him or her. My arms felt empty, my heart yearned to be close to her…I ached for her. As my head hit the pillow, I wept. I held “Audrey Bunny” in my left arm and clung tightly to Chris’ hand. Perhaps this helped pacify my need to hold something… I praised God that our baby was alive. I felt overwhelmed for the parents who have lost babies and children and the hope of holding them or being near them was no longer a reality. Thankful for the profound perspective we have been given.
I woke around 2am and naturally wondered how she was doing. With groggy eyes and slow fingers, I dialed the NICU. The team who cares for her is incredible, her nurse have me the good news that she was sleeping peacefully and had been all night.
This morning looked a lot like other mornings around our house. Showers, breakfast, a messy haired blondie walking sleepily into our room. But today, we were motivated to get out of the house. All three of us were ready to see little sis.
We received our daily update from the neonatologist. Overall, Audrey’s day started out well. Her blood gas was one of the best she has had. Her bilirubin is getting better, so hopefully only one more night under the light with her “sunglasses”. She is still on 24% oxygen with 30 breaths per minute, but she is taking about 20 additional breaths of her own each minute as well.
Celebrate the small victories.
She continues to get more and more of my milk, the goal is 25mL over two hours before they can stop giving her extra fluids. Right now she is at 9mL and moving up one milliliter every other feeding. To supplement, she has been getting the extra IV fluids through her umbilical catheter.
HAS BEEN, being the operative phrase.
Today, for the 6th time, a team of nurses looked over Audrey’s body seeking a viable vein in which to place a PICC line to provide the extra fluids. This would allow the umbilical catheter to be removed since it was running out of time and would keep her from having surgery. This was the last chance. It was a big moment. We know how hard each try has been on her frail little body.
After waiting outside the NICU for over 2 hours…we got the news.
It worked. It worked! Not only is there no longer a race against the clock, but no umbilical catheter meant one very special thing…we can now hold this angel baby in our very arms. My heart skipped a beat, Chris looked at me with delight in his eyes. Our arms would be full of Audrey.
Less than an hour after we received the news, Audrey was laying on my chest and listened to my heart thump with deep love. I fell into an even deeper love if that was even possible.
I held her for almost an hour. Soaking her in, feeling each of her 3 pounds 13 ounces resting lightly as we each took breaths. I felt completely in sync with her.
Toward the end of my hold, her feeding tube started to slip out and made her quite uncomfortable. She has so many tubes and lines lacing her entire body, but somehow I didn’t feel them, I only felt her. A bit like her differences. I know they are there, but I don’t let them define our daughter. She is defined by her strength, beauty, the fight she puts up and the love she creates.
Later, Chris and I returned to the hospital to tuck her in and Chris had his hour to hold his baby girl. Watching this moment felt like such a blessing. We never knew what might happen. Here lies the father of my children, holding this baby only 5 days after she took her first breath.
The chaplain came in today who has been praying with us since Audrey’s birthday before the delivery. Trisha is a special soul, gifted and blessed with the ability to listen, ask questions and pray in a way that you know she gets it and you can feel a bigger presence in the room. She prayed over Audrey, specifically for the PICC line to work, and one thing she said stuck out, “Give Audrey the strength not only to survive but to thrive in this world. May she be like a stone tossed in a pond allowing her story to have a ripple effect and touch many lives.”
Nailed it. Between Trisha and our favorite nurse named Kim, Audrey’s team in the hospital goes beyond science and medicine. Her care has a spiritual layer.
So many incredible things have happened, and through all the hard times, we find a way to seek the joy…to choose happiness. A wise friend suggested to “…meet your daughter and love her for where she is today. Let tomorrow take care of itself.” Excellent, usable advice. We’ll do just that.
Audrey, today we celebrate many things, but mostly we celebrate the opportunity to hold you close to our hearts. While we would like to hold you all day long in the comfort of our home, today…today we celebrate this milestone. Thank you for fighting. Thank you for breathing…for eating.
Audrey baby…thank you for living.
Thank you all for your fervent prayers for this specific moment. It worked. We believe in you and your deep thoughts and prayers. Audrey’s warriors are powerful and intentional. Thank you.
Only God knows what tomorrow may bring, but tonight, we are grateful for the gift of her touch.
Carrie or I will write again soon, in the meantime, I encourage you to read the comments of each post a couple of days after it is live. Some amazing things are said by wise souls and we can all benefit from the writings by others who take time to read these.
Love and Hugs,