The waterworks began late Friday night as soon as the van doors shut tight and I pulled away from patient pick-up. Missy and I have had a lot of tough goodbyes in our years spent together, but this was easily the most difficult.
Sienna and her sweet sucking sounds she made when she ate.
Rowan and her poor head IV.
Jovie and her disinterest in anything other than sleeping.
By the time we reached the interstate we were one hot mess. Missy would start crying, and as soon as I got her calmed down, I would start again. It flat sucked. Even though we hadn’t always been in the same room with the girls, it was still some reassurance to know that the five of us were under the same roof. We drove home knowing that for the first time in over seven months, it would just be the two of us again. And it broke our hearts.
Thankfully, the comforts of home helped cure some of our hurt. Aunt Shannon and (Grand) Mama Florer left the hospital earlier in the day to prepare the house for us. Mainly: cleaning out our fridge, buying some grocery essentials, and arranging the flowers Missy had received earlier in the week. Little did we know that they also called in reinforcements to help decorate our deck and yard with “new baby” steamers, stickers, and signs. Arriving home to a clean, decorated house softened the blow quite a bit. By the time we tucked ourselves in, we were thankful to be back in our own bed again and soon fast asleep.
The entire weekend was spent in the NICU with the girls, where they are affectionately known as “rock stars”. Other than the photo therapy to treat their high bilirubin count (and being very tiny), the girls have hardly had any problems (knock on wood) thus far during their time inside the NICU. They are nursing, taking food from a bottle, maintaining their own body temperature, breathing room air, and haven’t had a single spell since they were born. Doctors making rounds and nurses coming in during shift-changes all have asked “what else?” and “that’s it?” almost as if they expect more to be wrong with triplets born at 34 weeks.
Missy and I realize that we have been, and continue to be, extremely blessed in that the girls continue to make enormous strides towards going home every day. I almost felt selfish for being so upset on our drive home Friday night knowing that while our girls will only be in the hospital for a couple of weeks, there are other babies we walk past daily that have been in the NICU since January. We are fortunate that the best neonatal care in the state is less than a 20 minute drive from our house; other families (like the couple that followed us to the parking lot from the NICU and got into a car with “Cherokee Co.” license plates) may have to drive hours, prohibiting them from being with their babies as much as Missy and I are with ours. Missy told me that there is a big part of her that just wants to walk the NICU while our girls nap and comfort the babies that don’t always have family with them.
Whether it be three days, three weeks, or three months, it’s a hard journey for any parent to take. For me personally, being at work is tough, especially knowing that Missy is handling most of the load at the hospital. I drop her off at 7:15 every morning on my way in and head back down to meet her at 5:00 after I get off. We usually don’t end up getting home until 10:00 at night. To help us get into our routine, we have been assisting the nurses as much as possible with feeding and care; I think they really appreciate the help! Mercy’s NICU must have some of the best staff in town…all of our nurses and doctors along the way have been tremendous!
So while the girls sleep, we are silently counting down the hours and days until we get to bring them home. They have been meeting and exceeding all their benchmarks, so the latest prognosis is that they will hopefully get to come home this coming weekend; a huge accomplishment that can’t be overstated enough. Missy and I just want to look at them and hold them all day long, even if all they do is scream and cry…at this point we’ll take anything, just as long as we are all together again.