Dear NICU Nurses,
Today, my youngest son is 1. He turned 1 and a big part of that is you.
One year ago, I gave birth to a beautiful little boy. He was 5 weeks early, but I wasn’t scared. Most women probably would have been. But, naively I thought that all of my boys were early. All 4 of them. The last one was 4 weeks early and was ridiculously healthy. In my mind, I thought that one more week wasn’t that big of a difference.
Hayes came into the world fast and furiously. They placed him on my chest and my first words were “breathe, baby, breathe.” I had no idea how sick he was at the time. I just wanted to hear him cry. Looking back at the photos from that time really showed how purple he was. The contrast of his purple body to my pale skin was astonishing. The nurses swept him away to the NICU after they let me kiss him goodbye. I made Matt go with him to the NICU. I, honestly, can’t remember a lot after that. I do remember going to the nicu for his care times and watching as he went from not having any tubes to being on oxygen to watching an IV be moved around his small little body. I remember the lady coming in to administer a hearing test, but our bassinet was empty. I remember sleeping through a care time and when the next one came along we walked to the NICU doors and pressed the button. We waited. As we waited we saw at least 6 different people rushing in and out of his room in medical gowns. That is when I knew something was really wrong. When they finally let us into the NICU we were greeted by a woman who started to tell us about what went wrong. I don’t remember her words. But, I started to cry, a lot and then I collapsed and all I heard next was the woman telling Matt to hold me up. I couldn’t breathe. We went back to my room and I cried. I cried for I don’t know how long. A few hours later, we were able to see Hayes. He was practically motionless and there were so many tubes going into him. When he was first taken to NICU it was for rapid breaths and then low blood sugar. He went from being on oxygen, to having a feeding tube and an IV to being intubated, having a chest tube, being on morphine, an arterial line into his umbilical cord stump. This was all on top of the feeding tube and IV that was now neatly placed on his scalp. He had blown a small hole in his left lung (a pneumothorax) Our amazing pediatrician, showed us his chest x-ray where you could see his where his little heart had been moved so far over from where it was supposed to be. He told us the options that baby Hayes was facing and neither of those options were staying at our home town hospital. In the end, they decided to send him to a level IV NICU in downtown Denver, Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital. Hayes began being prepped to be transported in his first ever ambulance ride. I rode with him and it was eerily quiet as we made the trek there. Hayes was at his new home for the foreseeable future.
For the next 8 days, I pumped every 4 hours including at night. I made the 45 minute drive every morning to the hospital with my bag full of milk and I would be by his bedside for 8+ hours. If I could have been there 24 hours a day, I would have been. But, I knew he had the best medical team. There were so many amazing nurses that cared for Hayes when I couldn’t be there. I never met any of you night nurses, but thank you. Thank you for caring for him and giving him the love I couldn’t when I was at home caring for my 4 other boys. Thank you to the amazing day nurses that took the time to get to know me, remember my name, and hug me when my eyes filled with tears. I really can’t imagine how this could have gone without all of your compassion, patience and love for your job. There are not enough words that can express how truly thankful I am for you all. I am really horrible with names, but your faces will never leave my memory.
I know that our experience with a baby in the NICU is one that not everyone gets. Not everyone gets to bring their baby home. We know that we are lucky and blessed.
Hayes has thrived. He is growing just like any other baby. His fine and gross motor skills are right on par for other babies his age. In fact, today he took his first steps. He is thriving because of the amazing medical team that reacted quickly when the pneumothorax happened. He is thriving because of the decisions that were made at Castle Rock Adventist. He is thriving because of the incredible team that took care of him at Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital. Thank you! Thank you for the countless hours you all spent nursing my baby back to health. I am forever grateful.
I want to end this post with a link to donate to Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital. You can donate here: https://support.rmchildren.org/checkout/donation?eid=89497
Again, THANK YOU! To all the NICU nurses: I see you. I see how much you care, how much you love, how hard you work. It’s not said enough, but know how much my family and I appreciate you!
Here’s a kind of short video of his first year!
The Huston Family