was the scariest but happiest day of our lives. One year ago today our dreams of being a complete family of 5 came true. Its hard to put into words what that day meant. Adam and I were extremely excited but also scared that for one, Braden wouldn’t be ready to come home as he had started to act sick and two, that we wouldn’t be as good of caregivers to B that his hospital family was to him. The day before Braden started acting like he was coming down with something so I had not let myself get too excited that November 17 was going to be the day he was coming home. At about 7:15 that morning, Sarah, B’s nurse that day called and immediately my stomach hit the floor…something was obviously wrong. Sarah asked if I was sitting down and I thought “Oh my God what happened” and she asked “Do you think Braden is ready to come home?” and I said something like “well if he is sick no” and she yelled “WELL HE IS!! HES COMING HOME!” I just started laughing and crying and kind of peeing my pants a little bit ;) I ran down and told Adam and said “Lets go get him!”
I remember the drive down and thinking to myself…its going to be SO nice to not have to drive to Des Moines every day (no offense Des Moines). And then when we walked into the hospital and I took a deep breath trying to remember the smell of the place that was our second home for the last 10 months and relishing in the last elevator ride up to the 4th floor NICU, the last long walk to Braden’s room in 4008, the last day I got to goof around and chat with my girls who took such awesome care of him when we split our time between kids all the while trying not to break down bawling.
The first person I saw in Braden’s room was Sarah and we both started crying and she told me that his room had pretty much been like this all morning. All the doctors on call had stopped in and said their good byes. Annalicia, one of his RTs, was rocking B in his room and crying too. His couch was FULL of gifts and cards from everyone on the fourth floor and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Poor B was so wore out from all his visitors that they decided to let him crash while they told us that they had something for us. In one of the larger rooms they had set up an entire spread of food and had thrown us a surprise going away party. They had a huge poster that all the nurses/RTs/doctors had signed and we all just hung out and ate food and talked about the past 10 months…oh and they said don’t tell anyone about this (sorry cats out of the bag ;) )I also got suspicious as everyone kept wanting their picture taken with B. Come to find out that they had made us a Shutterfly book for Braden to document all the people that loved him for the 1st 10 months of his life.
It took 3 hospital carts to get everything into the car that day and after many hugs, tears, and goodbyes later, Sarah carried Braden down to the van and gave him one last hug to send us off. To say that it went smoothly would be a lie. Adam and I fumbled around, tried to find all his equipment, it was cold and windy and B was not having it and I was having a minor panic attack and thought we were going to have to re-admit him to the hospital with the fit he was having. Luckily we got our act together and we headed home. That car ride to Ames was the longest, scariest ride of our lives but the second we pulled into our driveway, saw the welcome home sign that Wendy and Seann had put in our yard I knew this was where he needed to be…with us and his brothers.
Its been a crazy, fun, amazing, scary, stressful year but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I can’t thank the staff at Mercy for all they have done for us. Braden is living proof that you work miracles daily and the love you showed our family and how you took us in and under your wing and made us feel safe and loved…there are just no words to show our appreciation. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for loving Braden and getting him to where he is today. Thank you to everyone who called the next day to check on him and see how we were doing. Kate, thanks for calling me and giving me the verbal kick in the pants I needed to remember that we do know what Braden needs and that we were/are capable of taking care of him like he was in the hospital. Thank you to all my girls who have traveled to Ames to visit Braden on their own time (Angela, Shelly, Sarah, Kristin, Laura, Kate, Kelly, Erin, Bri, Annalicia, and Anna to name a few) Thanks for keeping in contact with us and continuing our friendships even after we’ve left your care. You have no idea how much that means to us. And thanks to Sarah who spends 1-2 times a month working as one of Braden’s homecare nurse. I think I look forward to your work day as much as Braden!
And BIG thanks to all our friends and family who have supported us through this crazy busy year and welcoming B with open arms. I know its hard to make room for us and all his equipment, but with every event B can go to is just another testament to the fact that we aren’t going to let anything stand in the way of him having as many opportunities in life as possible!
So here are some pictures from the day B came home. I hope to have many more anniversary posts after this one :)
And last but not least…a then and now picture. Look how far you’ve come buddy <3
January 30, 2010 – 5 lbs 0 oz. 14” long ( 34 weeks gestation)
November 16, 2011 – 24 lbs and 26” long (21 months old)