It was Friday, November 25, 2011.
On that day, Miss Malena Lola was turning 7 months old, and weighed 5.2 kilos – 11.5 lbs.
It was along way from the NICU days when she needed an ET tube and a ventilator to breathe.
It was a long way from the days when she needed an NG tube to feed through her nose.
Today baby girl was able to breathe on her own, and only needed 2 L of O2. She was able to breastfeed on demand and was thriving in every way.
Today baby girl would get to leave the hospital and go home for a day visit for the first time in her tiny but mighty life.
I arrived to the hospital very early that morning, at around 6 am. I wanted to have baby girl on the way home as soon as possible.
I did her trach care, fed her and changed her.
Loaded up the car in the meantime with baby girl’s oxygen tanks, suction machine, emergency kit and medications.
Then signed the forms that authorized me to take my baby girl home for a day pass. Her nurses and docs came by to wish us well.
We quickly said bye and headed out. We didn’t want to stay in that hospital once second longer than we had to.
Baby girl was really excited, she loved sitting in her car seat and going for a ride in her stroller.
I remember feeling such pride and joy walking out of the hospital with my baby girl. And most of all I felt so lucky, so grateful.
I had been waiting for this moment for so long…I couldn’t believe it was finally happening.
I remember feeling so aware of every instant of that moment, feeling so present. Every cell of my being was rejoicing.
Every little detail felt magnified by the divine grace of that moment.
Baby girl was in such wonder, she big brown eyes were bigger than ever.
It is always amazing to look at the world through the wonder of a child’s eyes.
I will never forget the feeling of watching my baby girl look out the window while we drove home. She was fascinated!
I felt so grateful. I felt so fortunate.
As I watched my baby smiling and sitting in the middle of our living room, I knew I was experiencing a miracle.
I remember sitting there just watching her, just enjoying having her home. I cried.
I knew how lucky I was to be able to have my former 25 week micro preemie baby girl home. I knew how lucky I was to have my tiny but always mighty baby girl thriving.
She had made it out of the hospital.
This was a day to remember. This was a day to not only count my blessings but to celebrate my blessings with all my heart and soul.
Baby girl spent the day at home and then went back to the hospital to spend the night.I hated having to take her back to the hospital. It felt wrong.
It felt right for her to be home at this time.
The doctors were afraid of letting her spend the night at home so fast. I wasn’t.
I knew what I had to do.
The next day I spoke to her main doctors and told them I wanted to take her home overnight.
Of course at first they said not yet, but I asked them why and they did not have an answer that made sense. Their answer was basically that they were not used to moving that fast and that it would be better to do a few more day passes before we tried a night pass.
I said that answer was simply not good enough.
I didn’t care what they were or weren’t used to. My baby girl had no issues during her day pass and she had met all the criteria for discharge. There was no need to keep her in the hospital overnight. I was going to take her home.
The doctors said I would have to sign a waiver indicating that I was willing to do this without their consent, and I said where do I sign.
That night baby girl was home. I stayed up all night just watching her sleep.
The next day we took her back to the hospital in the evening, that was the agreement with he doctors.
It never ceased to baffle me the fact that the doctors were so afraid to allow a baby to be home. It felt as if they had lost sense that a baby is supposed to be home. That is their natural habitat. And yes, this very preemie baby girl had needed to be in the hospital for nearly 8 months, but she was ready to go home. And it was time the doctors realized that and let go.
I remember having to have several conversations with the team of doctors and other hospital staff about baby girl’s discharge date. They all seemed unwilling to set a date.
I told them if they were not willing to set a date then I would, and I did.
I told them our night time caregivers would be ready to start working on Wednesday, December 14, so that would be baby girl’s discharge date.
I told them everything was ready on my end, so they better get everything ready for that date.
My baby girl had fully met all the medical criteria for her discharge. My baby girl was going to spend Christmas at home.
The time to be overly cautious and fearful was over. It was time to set her free.
It was time to embrace life outside the hospital. Life at home.
I will forever remember Wednesday, December 14, 2011, as one of the happiest days of my life.
After 258 days and nights, my baby girl was finally and officially discharged from the Children’s Hospital.
My tiny but mighty miracle was home.
All I wanted for Christmas was my baby girl home. My wish had been granted.
I was overwhelmed with the deepest joy and gratitude. I cried and I laughed all at the same time.
I had truly come to learn that there’s no place like home.
My heart was finally home.
It was a true Christmas miracle.