|In the Car Seat Heading Home|
Day 85 - Saturday 2 May 1998
Moms been running around like a chicken with her head cut off. We know Summer’s coming home on Monday. Mom has been feathering the nest for well over 3 months now but still there are things that are not quite right. In addition, mom will have a baby shower tomorrow but insists on continuing to buy things. Her rationale is that we will need certain things and we can’t rely on having them given to us. Not when Summer is coming home on Monday. Family member arrive in town to also attend the shower tomorrow. There is a sense of excitement in the air. Dad’s stress level is really high but it has more to do with finishing his term project and taking his final exam next week then it does with Summer’s arrival. From Dad’s perspective we are ready to go. Dad is taking the entire week off so he knows he can get some of his project and studying done during the week. Mom and Mom’s mom visit Summer and grandmom gets to hold Summer for the first time. Dad swings by the NICU to pick up mom to head to a Run for the Roses party hosted by some Air Force customers. Mom and Dad place a bet on Victory Gallop and win a part of the pool. Their take is $17. Not bad. They also try drinking Mint Juleps for the first time. Not good. We are not bourbon drinkers.
Day 86- Sunday 3 May 1998
One day to go. Mom is so excited she can’t contain her self. She heads off to the baby shower. Dad gives his sister explicit instructions on how to shoot video of the shower. Dad does some light work around the yard and house to make sure everything is ready. After the shower they call the NICU to check on Summer. The NICU is not accepting phone calls and no visitors are permitted in. It seems a premature pair of twins were born late in the afternoon and they are in critical condition. Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents. It is so sad that on the day before we bring Summer home that their isn’t complete jubilation and in the world which prompts a day of world peace. Life must continue. Dr. Z is on duty in the NICU so we know the new babies are in the best hands. We do not visit Summer on Sunday and are told that Summer will be discharged from the Hospital. When mom gets home from her shower dad views the video. He recognizes one shower attendee stealing the lime light. Mom also brings home some champagne from the shower. Dad says - “Don’t mind if I do”. Dad doesn’t even like champagne but manages to finish off almost the entire bottle (bid bottle). In hind sight his stress was really showing. So on the night before Summer’s homecoming Dad spends the night on the bathroom floor yawning in technicolor. It’s been years since I’ve been there but it’s good to get back once in a while. It gives you perspective.
Day 87 - Monday 4 May 1998
After 87 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit it’s time for Summer to come home. Everything is ready we just need to drive up to the NICU, sign some papers and take her home. Summer comes home today. This is the most exciting day of our lives. Some how Dad manages to sneak in a staff meeting.
We leave for the hospital at 11:30 AM. When we get to the NICU Dr. G is on duty and will be discharging Summer. Dr. Z is there as well. Dr. Z has been up all night taking care of the new twins that entered the NICU under critical circumstances last evening. Dr. Z is still a wonder in our eyes. We say good bye to Dr. Z. and thank her for being there for Summer.
Dr. G comes into the waiting room to talk to us about what to expect at home. We know Dr. G is also in love with our child and will miss her. We thank Dr. G for all she has done.
Sharyl comes in and talks to us about the discharge. We are presented with our exit interview to make sure we learned all of the care we will need to know with Summer and will be comfortable taking care of her. Sharyl also brings in a present for Summer. Later we find out that it is a colorful summer beach hat with dolphins. It’s nice to know Sharyl thinks of Summer in such bright and colorful ways.
After all the paperwork is signed we begin to pack up all of Summer’s belongings. Sharyl will accompany us to our car. Just before departure its one more trip around the NICU to say goodbye to whatever staff is on hand. Its a happy yet sad affair. The staff at the NICU has become like our family. Each member serving some role. We know their personalities, we know their back grounds, we know why they are there doing what they do - around the clock, seven days a week. It has been the experience of a life time and we have enjoyed knowing each and every one. If I ever finish this web page it will be dedicated to them.
Sharyl packs up Summer and will accompany us down stairs to our car. In the lobby we say goodbye to Sharyl but know Lisa will be in close touch with her during the next several weeks. Summer is discharged weighing it at 4 lbs 14 ozs.
The drive home is amazing. Dad can’t believe how thin the lanes are and how fast everyone is driving. It’s like he entered the twilight zone. There are maniacs all over the road. His senses are on overload. Every car is a threat. Every ordinary driving decision becomes a deliberate act. A struggle between life and death. It’s no way to drive and ironically probably more unsafe for the baby in the car he is trying to protect. He recognizes that it is an emotional reaction to the great love he has for the precious cargo he is responsible for in the back seat. Either that or he is still drunk from the night before. Mom sits in the back seat and stares down at our precious cargo hoping Dad won’t pile it in on the way home.
We pull up into the driveway for the first time. Summer is at home. She looks out the window and says, “Daddy, why haven’t you mowed the grass?” Our neighbor and hired artist Jessica catches us getting out of the car and comes over to steal a first glimpse of Summer. She is surprised at what she sees. A beautiful baby girl that looks like a baby. Knowing Jessica, she went back home a had a good cry. It was a wonderful moment.
And now the moment of truth. The front door swings wide and there just beyond the threshold stands Sheena the black panther, svelte as the puma, cunning like the fox, black as the ace of spades, balding just a little in front of her ears, and looking as if she has taken one to many leaps off the high window sill and landed on her head. That’s our Sheena. She noses up to the car carrier, takes a sniff, and then frantically flees the scene. She will spend the rest of the day prowling outside the house.
We placed Summer in a specially prepared bassinet in our bed room. Dad shoots pictures and video of the occasion. Summer is home. Now the telephone calls start and the rest of our lives begin.
Day 88 - Tuesday 4 May 1998
Monday melds straight into Tuesday. We didn’t get much sleep last night. Summer is up every 2 ½ hours to eat. And while she is asleep she makes little squeaking noises. Every five minutes we are looking at her to make sure she is all right. Of course she is but our imaginations run wild. All day Tuesday its much of the same, little sleep and constant checking. The phone calls keep coming and we get the word out that Summer is home. Mom and Dad take turns with the feedings and the diaper changes. The monitor goes off once on Tuesday. Her respiration was slow but she corrected herself within 3 seconds. The monitor remains silent the rest of the day. Dad takes time to drop of the notification of a premie at home and on monitor to the rescue squad. They schedule a time to come visit with Summer on Thursday. Just to show us their equipment and to fully understand what they are up against. Sheena is adjusting well. She will walk up and examine Summer but no hissing. She just walks off disinterested. Its a good sign.
Day 89 - Wednesday 5 May 1998
Tuesday melds straight into Wednesday. Again, very little sleep for us. Summer still squeaks and cries out whether she is sleeping or not about every four minutes. It’s nerve racking. When one of us is on duty we send the other one down stairs to sleep. That arrangement is working nicely. Today the home nurse came by to check on us and to make sure we were doing everything properly and didn’t have any questions. While she was there she watched Mom give Summer her first bath at home. Summer loved the bath. She loves the warm water on her body. Summer weighs in at 5 lbs and 1 oz. Dad is called into meetings that he must attend. He isn’t very happy about it but he hopes it will eventually spawn business.
Day 90 - Thursday 6 May 1998
The rescue squad visits today. When Dad sees them heading up the walk to the house next store he is glad they scheduled a visit. This team is very professional. Their equipment is amazing. They show Mom and Dad their state of the art rescue kit based on a childs size. They first lay out a measuring strip to measure a babies length. The measuring strip is color coded based on length. These colors direct the paramedics to a color coded pouch that contains all of the right size medical equipment to work on a child of this size. It is work of genius or hard learned experience. Either way it is a comfort to know that the paramedics have their act together. The color coding also directs the technicians to the proper equipment to insert an ET tube if necessary. Also on the color coded strip are the correct doses of any medication that the paramedics might have to administer. Again it is a very professional set up. While they were with us they got the call just like on Emergency. Heart attack at the nursing home. Just as quickly as they came, they departed our living room. We enjoyed meeting them but hope the next time we see them is at their annual fund raiser.
Day 91 - Friday 7 May 1998
Summer visits the pediatrician for the first time today. It’s also our first car trip since we brought her home. Dad still feels weird behind the wheel. It probably wasn’t the alcohol after all. Mom thinks he is too stressed out and needs to take a chill pill. We get to the doctor and are shuttled right back to a private waiting room, Mom is very happy. They don’t want the small babies who are not sick waiting with the sick children. Dad never thought of this. Dad would be sitting next to some snot nose, coughing, and hacking kid letting him touch Summer if it wasn’t for these smart people. They take Summer back for a heel stick. We can hear her screaming as if they are torturing her in the next room. Mom is dismayed to say the least. They bring her back in for Mom to hold until the Doc shows up. Dr. B shows up and takes all 20 pages of Summer’s discharge papers back to her office to read. It will take her 20 minutes to get through it all before she returns. She gives Summer an exam and is very please with how she is performing. Summer is now officially 5 lbs 3 ozs. Everything is going well and it looks as if her parents can actually take care of her. On the way out of the Docs office we meet up with a 26 week premie who was now 18 months old. The future awaits us as we stare into the eyes of this beautiful, alert, and fully functional child. As our oddessy draws to a close I am reminded of these words:
“This is not the end. Or the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning”
Let’s get started.
Thanks for following Summer’s story. We will see you all soon.