Haley’s Story: Hope for the New Year

December 31, 2014

A note from the Hand to Hold family:

Sometimes, when you’re stuck on bedrest, or worse – in the NICU, for the holidays, going home seems like it’ll never happen. The days are long – and lonely, and you wonder what the New Year will bring. Well, we have one word for you… HOPE.

We hope that this story will bring you just that for the New Year. Hope. Hope that you’ll make it as far as you want to in your pregnancy; Hope that you’ll deliver without complications; Hope that your NICU stay will be short; and Hope that you’ll soon be home with your miracle.

Haley’s Story

“Ok you are all set to go.  I will call for a wheelchair to take you to your car.”

How do I just leave?  My baby is still here.  She is still fighting.  How do I leave her?

Let back track 5 days.  I was at home, babysitting for a friend and taking care of my 2 year old.  It was a very normal day.  We played games, read books, ate lunch and took naps.  Nothing unusual.  I felt a little flu like, but really nothing to worry about.  Colds were going around.  I remembered not feeling well with my first baby so I just thought it was normal.  My first pregnancy went really well.  No major problems and I delivered at 36 weeks, almost full term.  He was healthy and happy.  I thought this pregnancy would be similar.  It was about 4:30 and I was getting ready to head out to my midwife appointment.

Wait, what was that?  Oh no! 

I was bleeding.  Off we went to the hospital.  Tears pouring down my face and I feared the worse.  My baby wasn’t moving.  What a relief when I arrived and they were able to let me hear the heart beat right away.  The relief was short lived.  I was contracting, dilating and bleeding a lot.  It got worse, suddenly there was no heartbeat.  They moved me around, gave oxygen and tried to encourage our baby to move off of her cord.  It was back.

“We need to take the baby now.  There is no time to wait.  You are abrupting.  We need to go now.  Give your husband a kiss.”

“I’m only 29 weeks!  My baby needs more time!”

24 hours later I was finally able to meet my baby girl face to face.  She was so tiny, 2lbs 9 oz, but so perfect.  I was in love.  During my 5 day stay I was with her as much as possible.  I couldn’t imagine not being by her side.  I knew she could feel my presence.  At 2 days old I finally could hold her.  It was only for a few minutes but it was so amazing.  Most of the time I sat by her bed and watched her sleep.  I prayed for her that God would give her strength.

That dreaded moment came though.  I knew it would.  It was time for me to go home.  No more being right down the hall from her.  It would take planning to go visit and spend time with her.

It was silence as they wheeled me out the back employee entrance to the hospital.  At least I didn’t have to face as many people, but those I did see knew it wasn’t a happy moment.  I cried the whole way home.

If it wasn’t for my amazing husband I never would have been able to leave.  He assured me we would go back to visit that night.  It took time to get used to not being with her, but over time it became our routine.  It was never easy, but we managed.

Haley at home. -- Photo courtesy of Nicole Polk Photography

Haley at home. — Photo courtesy of Nicole Polk Photography

After 5 weeks we were shocked and amazed when they told us she was ready to come home.  That story is for another day.  Today our sweet Haley is 5 years old.  She is amazing.  She is stubborn, feisty, and full of love.  As hard as our experience was I am so thankful to have been chosen to be her mom.  I am a better person because of our experiences.  My faith is so much stronger.  God protected us on that day she was born.  Someday this little girl will change the world, I just know it.

Us preemie parents have a special strength that is indescribable.  It’s a strength that holds us together when it seems our world is falling apart.  It’s a strength that allows us to keep moving each day.   If you are still riding the NICU rollercoaster know that you have this strength too.  Lean on friends and family.  Other preemie parents are now your family.  We are here to help you.  If you are home with your miracle remember that strength you have.  It doesn’t go away just because you are no longer in the NICU.