She was still on the ventilator and on a feeding tube at the end of week one. She was able to maintain her body temperature, her heart had healed up, and they were slowly weaning her off of her pain meds. However, when they would get her too lucid, she would start ripping out her tubes.
On day 10, Allen and I were together. I walked in and heard a strange cry. The nurse looked over and said, "They just told me to take out the vent! You can hold your baby today!!" For ten days, we'd been cupping her, and reading to her from her bedside. We'd been sponge bathing her, and gingerly working around her breathing tube. She would try to cry, but she with the vent in, her mouth would open and close like a fish on dry land - without sound. I have to admit, it was a heart breaking sight. We didn't know what her little voice would sound like.
|Her first audible cries.|
|My first time holding her - 10 days old.|
Allen's mom flew in and stayed for 3 solid weeks. She ferried me to and from the hospital. She sat beside me while I held the baby. She'd hold Lexi and talk to her when I stepped out to pump or get lunch. Then, she'd drive me home, clean the house, and make us dinner.
|Lexi and Gma|
Marti would come to the hospital after Allen would leave to take the "night shift". The nurses often allowed her to stay even though visiting hours were supposed to be on hold at that time. Marti would read to Lexi. Sometimes, she would talk to her. I'm sure they had conversations that I'll never know about; talks that will bind them for life.
|We called this crib "baby jail".|
|Our place in the "big kid" side of things.|
The middle of April, Aunt Laura and Uncle Brent flew out for a quick trip to meet Lexi and lend their support. Laura's sister and friend of mine, Christie, was driving through the area a week later, and even took the time to stop and visit Lexi in the hospital.
At week 4, they let us do a trial run with Lexi. They gave us a room to stay in, and let us take all of her feeds for one night. At this point, her biggest challenge was eating. She hated eating. She was still on a feeding tube. She threw up almost all of her feeds. But, they wanted to let us take her. We wanted to take her. The safest thing was to try it out there at the hospital. We got set up and settled in for the night. I was stressed and scared. Allen was asleep. I was happy to wake up in the night and finally take care of her on my own. When they came in the morning to see how we'd done, the news was bad. Lexi had lost 13 oz. over night. Clearly, she wasn't ready to come off of the feeding tube. We sent her back to the NICU, heartbroken.
Week 5, my mom flew in to visit. We were in the big kid NICU. I was totally used to the environment. I knew no other way to have a baby. I was comfrotable with the routine, sounds, sterility of the place. Mom, however, wasn't. She quietly held Lexi while tears rolled down her cheeks.
|Nana with Lexi.|
In the mean time, we went to the therapists to make sure she was developing properly. By 4 months old, she had surpassed her goals, and was actually doing things a 6 month old would do. Lexi walked at 9 months. She been giving a blessing after birth that promised her to have "all of her faculties". And she did.
We are stronger for having experienced the trial. I personally feel like I'm a much better mom because of our time in the NICU. I was "raised" by the nurses there. I learned to look for and see things many people aren't aware of because I was surrounded by good doctors, nurses, and therapists. Allen and I learned a lot about how each of us respond under duress. We saw our strengths and weaknesses magnified in those first years as parents. In all honesty, when we do talk about those weeks, we cry. We can't look over the pictures without some sniffles. Not because we feel sad for ourselves or that our experience was just so awful we can't bear even the thought of it, no it's not that, but that the love for a child is so strong that even 7 years removed from it all, the feelings come rushing to the surface like it was yesterday.
At nearly 7 years old, Lexi is a bright, loving, intelligent, compassionate, and very capable child. Sometimes, we talk to her about her story. We show her the pictures. She struggled for the first couple of years with the side effects of being born early, but has outgrown all of them. Thankfully, it was all temporary. We now have ourselves a very healthy little girl who will go on to do great things in this life.
|Lexi - fall 2012|