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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Holding My Breath

Today Ann Catherine saw video of herself in NICU for the very first time.

We recently had all of our camcorder tapes converted to DVDs. The girls wanted to watch them and it started with AC's stay in NICU.

I had been uneasy about showing Ann Catherine what she looked like when she was first born. She has seen pictures, but they just don't do it justice. The videos seem to really highlight just how tiny and frail she was. I wasn't quite sure how she would respond. Before I pressed play, I tried to prepare her.

"Ann Catherine, I need you to remember something," I said. "You were so very sick when you were born. You weren't like other big babies. You were sick and weak and there were lots of tubes and wires running in and out of your body. Just remember that, okay?"

"Okay, mommy," she said, acting completely unfazed by it.

I pressed play and there she was.

It's hard for me to put into words how sick she really was. She was just a few days old. She had a feeding tube in her tiny mouth and a nasal canula in her nose. Her head was the size of a plum and her hands were the size of quarters.

She was so frail. She couldn't even open her eyes. And her breathing was labored. Her arms had absolutely no meat on them. And you could see her ribs as she took each breath.

She just looked so sick.

I held my breath and looked at Ann Catherine.

And she had the biggest smile on her face. "Look at me!" she said, grinning from ear to ear.

Maybe it's because we've never shied away from her prematurity and her precarious entry into this world. Maybe it's because she's a child and they are just so much more resilient than we give them credit for.

Either way, I closed my eyes and thanked God.

We watched it all - fast forwarding when she got bored. She saw me hold her for the first time when she was 10 days old,

and when Chris held her for the first time - on Father's Day of all days - when she was 17 days old.

She saw her first bath and taking her first bottle.

"When am I going home, mommy?!" she asked after a while. Oh boy, did I feel the same way living it!

Then she saw us pick her up from the hospital, after 68 days of living there. She saw us bring her home and walk into her home for the very first time.

That was her favorite part. The day we finally brought her home.

Funny. It was my favorite part too. :)


The Titsworth Family said...

Amy, it's so strange that you blogged about this b/c just last night as I was typing our post for the Miracle Bash Emma saw her early NICU pictures and asked about them for the first time. I was already emotional looking at them and typing the story and it just melted my heart when she asked about herself. I told her that she was really sick as a baby and that the doctors and nurses helped her to get well. She just smiled and was so excited to see herself. She doesn't realize at this point just how sick she really was but she kept saying how sweet she was as a baby. :) For me it gets harder to tell her story as she gets older and to see those early pictures but I love sharing them with her. We have some precious little miracles. :)

Kirsten said...

My mom has been a NICU nurse for 14 years and has so many amazing stories. Because we're at high elevation (Denver), the youngest surviving preemie is 26 weeks, I believe. She has had several of them, a lot of whom were cocaine babies and also had to go through withdrawals (one of the worst things I've ever seen). Those nurses amaze me every day--I don't know how they do it. My mom just received Nurse of the Year for the 2nd year in a row by a unanimous decision and she is a hero to so many people. I pray your daughter grows up feeling empowered by how she began her life. She has an amazing story to tell.

I will be starting a project at my mom's hospital, taking pictures of all the preemies and offering prints to the families. I can't explain how excited I am.