Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The final countdown (hopefully)!

I can't believe it's been over a week and a half since I last felt like I had time to sit down and write an update about baby boy!  He is doing so awesome right now it is a miracle!  I will start with the biggest news first - it looks like Asher is shaping up to come home with us a week from today!!  We are so wildly excited for him to be able to rest and grow in his super cool house, and we know he will have all of the care and support he needs at home from us and our family.  We are thrilled beyond words that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that Asher is so healthy and strong.  He is a precious gift in every way and such an adorable little nugget of a person.  When he comes home he might not even weigh 4 lbs yet!!

The little man is now free of all tubes!!! This just happened today and I have the best video of him triumphantly pulling out his feeding tube for the last time.  He has ripped it out before a few times only to have it quickly replaced.  You could see the disappointment in his eyes.  But this time he overcame and showed that tube who's in charge! (at the nurse's orders of course 😉 ) In the past week he has flown through so many milestones - his 34 week celebration, surpassing 1500 grams (he's at 1.69kg today or 3.75lbs), his first breastfeedings, no more oxygen tube, taking full bottles back to back to back, and his one month birthday!!! We are stoked and so proud of the will to fight in him, and we are beyond grateful to the outstanding support team of nurses doctors and professionals who have saved his life and helped him grow into the strapping 3 pounder that he is today.

Of course with all of this great news from today Julia and I are elated!  But still it's important to acknowledge that the best few weeks were really difficult at times.  We are so fortunate that Asher has not had any serious setbacks, but the possibility is always there.  It feels almost hard to believe that he will be coming home in a week and it might not feel real until we're in the car driving away.  Julia and I were in a good routine of getting into the nicu to help with Asher's feedings, changings and health checks about 2-3 times every day.  It feels like we have found a happy groove finally, and just as he is about to come home - but that is such a wonderful event to look forward to.  Some of the hardest parts for us have just been managing the life outside of our quality time with Asher.  Just the day to day things are really hard to stay on top of, as I imagine every new parent feels, and on top of that we were spending as much time in the nicu as we could, I was still working, we were preparing everything he needs when he comes home,  we were helping to take care of our new house/yard and still trying to find moments here and there to connect, relax and be present with each other and our family - it has been overwhelming for sure.  The truth is though that all of those frustrations just immediately melt away at the thought of bringing our little guy home and introducing him to his loving people who are all so ready to meet him too.

I have so much new respect for all parents.  I've always believed that it changes your life and that there's nothing to compare it to, but those are all infinitely true.  Like no matter how much we have tried to read about preparing for life with a baby, or being a nicu parent, it's still amazing how all of our thoughts and actions have reoriented around doing whatever we need to do to prepare and care for Asher.  There are a few hours here and there where we can unwind or focus on something else, but the baby is always beautifully right on the edge of our thoughts.

As our time in the NICU seems to be coming to an end, it really is bittersweet in many ways.  We have really come to think of the nurses here as our family.  They love Asher so much and show it in the way that they have saved his life and cared for him every day for the past 5 weeks.  They are some of the most caring and considerate people we have ever met.  I am in such awe of everything that they do and the miraculous impact they have on so many families every week.  We have become attuned to the nurses schedules and each of their different methods of caring, and we feel we have learned so much from their years and years of expertise and knowledge.  Not only have they saved our son's life, but they've also helped us to process through everything that's going on and reassure us that Asher has every potential to grow into a spectacular, strong person.  Asher is our baby through and through, but in a lot of ways he is their baby too, as he has been held in the hands of angels for the opening chapter of his life, and we will never forget the incredible family we have gained from our time in the NICU.  We feel that we have also gained some lifelong friends.

When I think of all the other parents who have to go through a similar situation, my heart totally pours open with hope and compassion for them and their familiies.  The NICU is a magical place that saves babies, and it is also so intense and scary.  There is a very real and continuous undercurrent of fear running throughout all of the moments that a baby spends in there, but it's also a place of immeasurable healing and protection.  The rollercoaster of emotions becomes a daily norm, and there were many times where we have felt so frustrated, upset and worried out of nowhere.  It's really hard to care about anything else when your child is fighting for their life even though they are in the best place to help them grow in these situations.  It's a whirlwind of a time.  Maneuvering our way through the past 5 weeks have felt like the longest five weeks of our lives, and yet as we look back it feels like these weeks passed by in an instant.  Asher has grown so much, achieved major milestones, and overcome every challenge put in front of him so far.  We have been there each and every day to support and care for him, but it's still such a strange feeling to look back and hope that we were there enough for him, to hope that he have done all we can to set him up to grow and develop.  As this first chapter of Asher's entry to the world is drawing to a close, we are ready to embrace the future as it is full of unlimited potential for this itty bitty baby.  I hope that other parents know there is always hope, that babies are the most resilient of all humans and can overcome all odds.  And you are never alone.  There are so many people, like us, who are here to listen to your stories with an open heart, to be a shoulder to cry on, and to understand the difficulties you are going through.  It takes a village, and we are happy to welcome all NICU parents into our village of love and support.

Now for the fun part.  Pictures!!!

Asher's triumph over his last tube today!

Some pictures from the past few weeks:

He is tube free today!!

Asher is coming home today

 The day has finally arrived for us to bring our baby home and we are over the moon thrilled.  We are here on day 38 of our NICU journey, an...