Well, we made it...ZOE IS HOME!!!! 291 days in the NICU and she's finally here! I think we are both still pinching ourselves! The day was great, Richard and I drove to the hospital on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning. When we got to the hospital Zoe was lying in her crib trying to take a little nap - many, many people had been coming by to say their goodbyes and she had gone on "parade" the night before to see all her friends. There was a HUGE sign made by "the picture lady, Connie" that said "We Love You Zoe" and the nurses had compiled these two frames with various photos of Zoe. The mat boards of the frames had been signed with messages from all the nurses and the RT's. It was so touching. Dr. Manar brought Hawaiian leis, little noisemakers and ice cream and cake, there was a real air of celebration in the NICU and Richard and I were just smiling from ear to ear!

I had buttons made for all the nurses, RTs and staff with a photo of Zoe and the words "Zoe was here, Dec '06 - Oct'07" written around the photo. I gave these out and we declared October 7, 2007 as Zoe Rose Sorrells day. It was so great to see everyone eagerly putting their buttons on, giving us hugs, I wish I had had time to tell each and every one of them how much they mean to us. So...I think I'll do it now and hopefully they're checking in on us and will read what I wish I had been able to say.

"To the doctors, nurses, RT's, techs, picture ladies, lactation, OTPT, nutrition, and staff who work in the Special Care Nurseries at Northside Hospital: It is because of YOU that my three daughters are alive. It is because YOU took the time to not just take care of their basic needs, but you took the time to get to know them and to get to know us. The NICU experience is such a deeply personal and emotional time and YOU have the perfect mix of compassion and knowledge to help and support us. We stand by our babies bedsides, unable to touch them, unable to hold them to our hearts, unsure if the the next breath they take will be their last, unsure if they do make it through if they will be medically fragile forever and YOU are the one we speak to, YOU are the one who tells us what's going on in a way that we can understand and process, YOU put a cute little hat or booties on our tiny 1 pound children to make them look like babies and not just sick fetuses, YOU take the time to sit with us and yet you also know just when we need to be alone. YOU know not to just look at the monitor, but to look at the baby...every second of every minute of your shift you are attentive, responsive, and compassionate. YOU make this experience bearable because you hold the future of our babies in your hands, you are charged with an incredible task, a job full of responsibility and you love what you do. Even when we stand there with our baby on the oscillator, on 100% oxygen, desating in the 50s...you tell us to put our hands in the isolette, hold her head and her feet - you give us this opportunity because you know it might be our last. And as our babies improve you help us hold them, you help us get over our fear of having children so small, you help us nurse them and massage them...you help us become a part of their lives and their care. What you did for us and for our babies will never be forgotten...you are an amazing group of people and we are blessed to know you!

Okay...so the details of our homecoming...I finally got that wheelchair ride out the front doors with Zoe in my lap and it felt so good! She was looking all around, wondering where we were. I thought she might take a nap in the car, but no, she just stared out the window watching the cars, trucks, trees, and clouds go by. We got home, and I walked in holding her and Avery gave me this look that said "Oh no, another one? I have to share you some more?" So, got Zoe changed, and got her settled on the sofa with me. It was so incredible to be sitting in our family room with ALL three of our daughters. And when they were all asleep that night we just went from crib to crib and just reveled in our joy to have them all under one roof - OUR roof!

Now, caring for Zoe is not easy. We do have a nurse who will be with us for the next 6 weeks during the day, but nighttime we're solo. Since Zoe had such an eventful and stimulating day she hardly napped and so was asleep for the night at 5pm. She slept really well until about 1:30 am when she was wheezing and needed her breathing treatment. I had gotten in bed around midnight and Richard was on Avery and Lily midnight feeding duty so I gave her her treatment which she thoroughly appreciated. But then she wasn't really sleepy since she had been asleep for the last 8 hours. Eventually she did go back to sleep, only to awaken due to reflux around 3:30 or so, so she had a spit, I suctioned her, turned up her O2 and the recovered nicely. I held her and rocked her and she fell asleep again only to have the same thing happen at around 5:30am. Then she was due for her "puffs" (another breathing treatment) at 6am, some meds at 7am, and another breathing treatment at 8am. She never did go back to sleep. Avery woke up at 5:45 so I took her to Richard's mom who entertained her for a few hours. Lily woke up at 7:30m and when I brought her into our room with Zoe, it was like she did a double-take and looked at her like, ok I was expecting another little person like me, but you're a different little person than I'm used to seeing, it was pretty cute.

Zoe, just seems like she knows she's home. She hasn't really had any problem adjusting. We can credit this to her primary nurse at Northside, who had her on a very nice schedule which we are continuing. We have a great primary nurse at home who is wonderful with doing what she needs to do but also allowing us to take care of Zoe...she knows we have waited a LONG time to be the primary caregivers of our child but she is there to support us and step in when we need her. Zoe seems to like her too and has given her a few of those winning grins. Richard has been able to take this week off which is wonderful - and we have my mom and his mom this week and then my dad will come next week. So, I think we'll be okay. It'll take a little bit to adjust and I'm pretty amazed at how adding one more little girl really turns things upside down! I'm of course worried about splitting my time fairly between all three girls, but also know that Zoe will need extra time for a while yet, she is still very medically fragile, but every day she is getting stronger and stronger.

Richard and I can not begin to express to you all how much we appreciate your love, your support, and your prayers. Were it not for YOU we would not be sitting at home this evening with ALL THREE of our daughters, alive and well. We ask for your continued prayers, that we can keep them illness free to avoid setbacks and that they will continue to grow and develop and blossom into the incredible little girls they are destined to be.

(Photos coming soon......)


Stef~ said...

your words are beautifully written..

i'm so glad you finally have her home!!

nancy said...

Oh Keira and Richard,

This one brought tears--of joy for you. Congratulations to everyone, most of all Miss Z, what a trooper! It sounded from your description of just one day that the medical issues will take constant attention . . . but this parenting thing isn't a sprint, it's an endurance event. Enjoy the wonder of all three!



Naomi Levit said...

k and family,
it's so good to hear zo zo is finally home where she belongs! tell her that auntie will be counting down the days until she comes over for the big birthday!
i love you k, r, a, l, & z!
auntie nomi

McTriplet Mommy said...

Hooray, hooray, hooray, hooray!!!! Oh, I am SO excited for you!

Praying for a boring, uneventful, illness free winter.

Take care,

abby said...

Congratulations on Zoe's homecoming! I look forward to reading more about all three girls and their life at home with you guys!

All time favorite video of Zoe!

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Bible verses that comfort me

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children....Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them"
~ Mark10:14 & 10:16

"...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint"~ Isaiah40:31