Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NICU Reunion 2015

We had the honor of attending the annual NICU reunion back a few weeks ago on 9/15.

NICU reunion invitations

I am so proud of my NICU graduates and love getting the chance to go back to see familiar faces, say "hi", and thank them. Once again, the NICU reunion did not disappoint. There was plenty of food, games and toys for the kids, characters dressed up, and the most important detail - the people. Just looking around that room is so emotionally charging. There are teeny, tiny babies that probably just got of the NICU, all the way up to beautiful and vibrant teenagers. Everyone there has this bond - everyone knows the pain, sorrow, joy and beauty of the NICU.

As I write this post, I think of a triplet family that we know that just lost one of their babies due to complications from NEC last week. I can't fathom why it happened and how much hurt and sorrow and grief that family feels right now. My heart truly goes out to them. My prayers are with them and I ask that you pray for this family as well.

My NICU mom friends, Laurel and Bonnie, couldn't make it to reunion this year. I was disappointed not to get the chance to see them, but we did get to see several of our nurses this year, along with some of our favorite March of Dimes reps. Nurse Mary Ellen was there again this time along with TWO of our primary nurses. Kathleen, one of our daytime primaries, was actually working that day but came down to the reunion while she had a few minutes and I was so glad to see her! Amanda was our primary night nurse and she came early before her shift started that evening so she could see some of her babies. I felt like we hit the nurse jackpot this year to get to see these sweet, sweet ladies. I still miss them. We also saw Kim and Rachel, the March of Dimes reps that were (and still are) so incredibly supportive. I saw an occupational therapist that we'd worked with on feeding while we were still there in the NICU, along with plenty more faces that I recognized. It's funny how almost two years has passed, but when I see people, I may not remember their name immediately, but I am transported back in time and can remember so much about our interactions and the peace of mind each of them gave me when I was scared, worried and stressed.

I met a fellow triplet mom whose girls (all 3!) are a little older than my boys (Elizabeth Coble). She and I have mutual friends and were already connected via Facebook, but I got to finally meet her in person! I also saw Carly and her sweet family. You may remember, Carly is a nurse and a mama to triplet boys as well. She and I connected while I was pregnant and have stayed in touch - see this post!) One my previous co-worker's son and daughter-in-law have a recent NICU graduate and we got to see them there along with their other two older children (Mark and Jenny Williams). I ran into another friend of a friend whose daughter was in the NICU slightly before the boys were born (Paige Patton). We saw the Cromer triplets - the same family that visited me on bed rest, were a shining example of how well preemie triplets can do as they grow up, and that we saw last year at the reunion. We got to see a set of twin boys that we met at the reunion last year (Parker and Peyton, I think???) - they are so cute and such a handful and I love exchanging that smile and look with their mom that says, "I know. I feel ya. Hang in there."

After we left the reunion, we went up to the 6th floor of the hospital, which is where the NICU is, as well as Labor & Delivery, Mom/Baby rooms, and the high risk section, where I spent weeks on bed rest before the boys were born. We stopped by the high risk area first and saw several of the nurses that took care of me while I was on bed rest. Carly and her crew were there as well, as was Dr. Ohning, the Neonatalogist who took care of the boys in the NICU. It was like another mini reunion right there in the high risk hallway! We all had a great time entertaining the boys and catching up. My primary nurse, Brooks, was so sweet and called my three "her babies". I told the boys that these nurses they were meeting listened to their heart beats several times a day, every day for weeks and weeks.

Before we left the hospital, we went by the NICU, because we heard that another one of our primary nurses, Ruth Ann, was working. We called to the desk in the NICU and asked if she was there and if she could come out to see us. Now that we don't have a baby in the NICU, we can't go in anymore. Ruth Ann graciously agreed to come out and see us and I was so glad and proud to see her. We couldn't chat too long since she was working, but got to catch up a little and I think she was glad to see us and really proud of the boys, too.

I don't know if I can accurately convey my deep gratitude and appreciation for each of our nurses and doctors. That's actually not true - I KNOW I can't accurately express it. For those that I saw at the reunion, I made a point to thank them and let them know how much we genuinely appreciated what they did for us (complete with watery eyes). These people saved my boys's lives. It doesn't get any more important and any more real than that. I am eternally grateful.

If you can believe it, I didn't take a single picture at the reunion. I regret that. It was another special day.

In case you want a little excuse to shed a tear, or want to know how much we value what NICU nurses do, watch this video.

And if you want to re-read about last year's NICU, reunion, here's the post: 2014 NICU Reunion post.  

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