Friday, July 24, 2009

An Old Familiar Drive

Today was the first day I've driven back to the hospital where Elise spent her first 10 weeks and 5 days in the NICU. I hadn't thought about the emotional impact the trip might have. She had an appointment to meet with the physical therapist who saw her while she was in the NICU for her feeding issues (apnea, pacing, etc.).

As we pulled off on the exit and stopped at the red light before turning, I started to feel tears coming. They didn't fully come, but the sadness of remembering stopping at this light so many times before and wishing it was green so that I could see my baby girl came flooding back. As I drove through the light and through the next light into the hospital grounds, I became angry. Angry that many other parents are making this drive daily to see their little babies. When I pulled in the parking garage and watched the lady in front of me turn the wrong way on the one-way, I swore at her. Bad me, I know. But the parking garage was the place I vented a lot of frustration as I got used to the ins and outs and got more and more annoyed by the people who couldn't seem to figure out how to drive or park in the darn garage. So all that came back when I saw her make that mistake.

I parked next to one of the many poles in the garage. And was careful to note that it was there. I don't think I ever mentioned it, but one day as I was leaving I backed the front left side of our car into one of those poles. I was paying attention but had three empty spots on that side of me so I thought I had plenty of room and was trying to back out quickly as I was parked around a blind corner for anyone trying to find a spot. The car still isn't fixed, but I never notice the damage anyway. (I'm sure Kit does every time he gets in the car...but I'm not observant like that.)

As I got Ellie out of the car, I was so grateful to not be arriving with an empty backseat or one with only a car seat base. And I was again saddened for those parents still driving around like we did for so long without their babies. Walking into the hospital I felt like somehow everyone should know my baby had been in the NICU, despite the fact that I didn't go up to the actual NICU. And I felt strangely naked without my NICU sticker on that indicated to people for so many days and nights why we were there.

We simply walked to Elise's appointment on the other side of the hospital, had the appointment and left. I didn't go up to the NICU. I'm not even sure how we would be able to see any of the nurses since Elise couldn't go in. Maybe someday I'll figure out how to visit them, but today wasn't the day.

Kit had lunch today with Paul, Anthony's dad. They've had lunch a few times since the kids came home. Today the turned around in line to see a mom Kit and I had seen in the NICU but never met. Paul and his wife, Susan, had met this mom. So she joined them for lunch. They talked about how hard it is to go back to the place where we all had to visit our babies. It's nice to have the camaraderie.

Today my friend Lua from the NICU, mom of Roman, also drove back to the hospital and delivered cookies and a letter from the two of us for all the parents. Another mom did this while we were in the NICU, and we appreciated the gesture. So yesterday we got together and Lua baked the cookies while I hole punched the letters and tied them to the Ziploc bags of cookies. If anything, it was therapeutic for us. We hope it helps the parents who are in the NICU now to know they aren't alone.

Ellie's physical therapy appointment went well. We talked about how Ellie's been doing with bottle and breast feeding. Then she listened to Ellie's throat with a stethoscope while she breastfed and then bottle fed. Bottled feeding went well as usual. During breastfeeding, she had some of the troubles she's been having (though not reflux but that's okay). At first Ellie was fussy because she wasn't getting anything, then she got overwhelmed by the let down and was then frazzled by all the milk. The PT said she thought it would help for me to pump for a couple of minutes before nursing so that Ellie gets a fairly consistent flow while she's nursing.

I tried the pump before nursing technique when we got home, and it seemed to work well. I've read about doing this before but hadn't tried it. Until she had the coil placed last week for her PDA, she wasn't having this problem. But maybe her increased energy means she's sucking harder and then overwhelming herself. We'll see how it goes as time progresses.


Remember these pictures from April 19th?

Today I decided to try on one of those headbands again to see if it might fit...

Can you believe she's gotten so big? It's crazy! (Don't mind the photo quality...all I had handy was my camera phone again.)

This is another of the cute headbands that Trish made for Ellie and the closest I've come to capturing her adorable little smile lately.


Lissa said...

Thank you! Your little Elise is so precious.=]

melissa said...

We were out there today too!! That is so crazy! It would have been funny if we would have seen you.

I think David said bad words in that garage, too. =) I think you nailed it on the head on why it's so easy to be irritated with people in there.

Unknown said...

Dearest Ellie...You are ADORABLE my dear. Your smile melts my heart!! I love you my little niece!!! Auntie Kirst

Amanda said...

Beautiful little girl looks so happy in her pretty hair bows! Going back can be emotional. We were allowed to bring Cadence back when we had appointments in the hospital and it was always good to see the nurses and they loved seeing her again. I hear you about how much better the trip is without an empty backseat! I never thought to make something for the other NICU parents. How thoughtful of you and your friend!! We used to bring stuff for the nurses often, but the other parents, that's a great idea! I used to love all the homemade goodies that would appear in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the hospital. Sometimes a cookie or a brownie made by someone who has been in your shoes really goes a long way.

Becca Sue Congdon said...

So much cute!

Claire said...

She's so adorable!


Krista said...

Praise the Lord for how well she's doing. And I'm sure you & Lua were a huge blessing to those moms in the NICU! How sweet of you both! Enjoy your weekend with your little baby girl & hubby!

Trish said...

Aww...those 1st headband pics are when I decided I needed to send you some smaller/stretchier ones!! I couldn't let that pretty girl suffer with ill fitting headbands!! ;) But my how she's grown!

Love that sweet smile. I am so thankful that my 3 girls never needed the NICU that I wanted to do something nice for a stranger who was having to go through it.

(((HUGS))) so glad she is doing so well!!

~Amanda~ said...

She's so cute!