Thursday, November 5

Home Sweet Home

Bryce won't sleep laying down by himself but he'll quite happily sleep sitting in his Bumbo...
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Tuesday, November 3

The time has finally arrived...

...for us to take baby Bryce home.

We've been a little out of touch since the baby shower last week trying to wrap up loose ends at home in preparation for Bryce's homecoming.

What a truly exhilarating and equally terrifying endeavor!

It's been a long time coming though I think we honestly never thought the day would actually arrive. This Saturday is Bryce's five month birthday! Boy, we've been in the Dell NICU for almost half of a year.

I personally have spent almost every day, almost every hour of every day there. And although I was there with Bryce I was also there with my new friends, mentors and confidants. Writing this and thinking of them brings tears to my eyes. I am going to miss the angels of Dell's NICU more than I can express.

These strangers who've come into my life so unexpectedly. Who knew me not from Eve but wrapped their arms around me in much needed but rarely requested hugs. Who've prayed with me when the most important thing in my life was hanging on by a mere thread. Who've laughed with me, oh how we've laughed, and even cried with me. Who've insisted on a break for me when I couldn't see myself how much I needed one. Who will ALWAYS be a part of me.

I never once imagined how hard leaving the NICU would be. But imagining a day without Lisa's companionship, without Danielle's silly stories, without Jennifer and Kathleen's wisdom and advice, without Shawna and Brandy's smart mouth comments, without the countless visits from Bryce's many wonderful caretakers* just to see how he's doing and offer a word of encouragement seems, well, just plain wrong.

I know we'll adjust and many of these ladies will continue to be a part of our lives but as tomorrow's discharge looms ever closer I can't help but feel it will be bittersweet. As we said goodbye to Jennifer yesterday afternoon and Lisa early this morning I had to choke back tears. Walking out tomorrow with Bryce in our hands is sure to be as emotionally taxing as the day we first walked into the NICU. So naive and ignorant as to what lie ahead.

I'll never forget that morning. How lost we were, trying to find our baby who seemed so impossible. Judi and Hoyt trailing quietly behind us as we navigated the elevator and hallways of Dell for the first time. We used that phone at the front, followed the instructions on the sign so carefully, as if we might mess them up and miss our boy. But Shawna came out and showed us how to scrub in, so matter of factly and yet so compassionately - so Shawna. We walked down that hallway too scared to speak, too afraid to ask questions.

I remember Mom, Poppa and Sharon were there waiting with Bryce. They were so quiet, we were all so frightened, almost scared a breath would take him away from us. And Kirby was there, methodically caring for our tiny miracle's every need. People were explaining things to us, offering us water or tissues and putting on a strong front but I knew what they were thinking. They were thinking the same thing we had been thinking all night but couldn't dare verbalize...there's just no way this baby is going to make it. And in the days and weeks that followed baby Bryce's life remained ever so tenuous, so fragile, so delicate. But our NICU staff, our friends and our family stood by us, ever so strong, so steadfast, so stubbornly unflinching.

And so here we are, many days, many tears and many new friends later. Anxiously and nervously preparing to walk out of the NICU for the first time without the intention that we'll be back in just a few hours. That we'll see our friends and familiar faces soon enough again. No more scrubbing in, no more sitting in the recliner holding the most precious and amazing thing that has ever happened to us, sharing every second of his existence with these amazing people.

As excited as I am for our future, I am equally terrified. As overjoyed as I am to finally bring our baby boy into our home, where he belongs, I'm equally saddened by the loneliness of an everyday routine that doesn't include our NICU friends.

We'll adjust and I'm confident we'll thrive. That's what we do. But we'll miss these friends, we'll think of them often and we'll forever be grateful for the miracles they perform in their jobs everyday.

*Diana, Lois, Lauren, Tiare, Melody, Thuy, Gary, Nicole, Shonda, Nicole T., Leah, T, Sam RT, Jaime, Jimmy, Lei, Dave, Kendra, Matt, Sara, Camille ... so many I can't name them selflessly caring for our sweet baby boy.