Thankful to be home (Avery's journey)
Avery's Journey (Part 9) - A Cook Children’s employee documents her daughter's time in the NICU
November 3, we like to call it Avery Independence Day, was one of the happiest, saddest and scariest days of our lives. It was the day we had looked forward to for so long, yet when it was finally here, I had never been more scared or sad in my entire life.
For the last 234 days, the Cook Children’s NICU had been our home and the nurses and doctors had become our family. I couldn’t believe that after all this time they actually trusted US to take Avery home and take care of her all by ourselves. I wasn’t sure we were ready.
Well, it turns out, we were ready. Have there been times when I secretly wanted to be back in the NICU, “co-parenting” alongside nurses and doctors who all have much more experience in taking care of babies like Avery than we do? Absolutely! But, we powered through the first few scary and lonely days and nights and are slowly getting into a groove. We are finally those sleep deprived parents we longed to be for so long. I spend most days with no makeup and covered in spit up and I’ve never been happier in my entire life.
Perhaps the hardest part about being home with Avery is the realization that this journey isn’t over and her early entry into this world will continue to make things hard for her over the next few years. It’s not as if something magical happened when we drove away from Cook Children’s to erase her medical history of the past 7 and a half months.
We have many doctors’ visits in our future. We have weekly in-home visits from nurses and physical and occupational therapists. And we are still on oxygen and have a G button. But, we’re home and Avery is doing great! I’ve had to throw out all the old preconceived ideas I had about being a mom and accept that this is what’s it’s like to be Avery’s mom.
As we look forward to celebrating our first Thanksgiving at home as a family, there are so many things to be thankful for. Being in the NICU for so long taught us to be thankful for the little things. For example, we’ve celebrated so many firsts since being home: Avery’s first car ride, bath, walk in the park, even something as mundane as her first trip to the pediatrician didn’t go unnoticed or unrecognized.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because it has made me a better person. It has made me Avery strong.
Avery, Shawn and I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving! We are so grateful to everyone who has followed our journey and been so supportive of us. Whether we know you personally or you’ve just followed our blogs to keep up with Avery’s progress, it is just so incredible to know of the many people we’ve had cheering us on. Hopefully, we’ve made you Avery strong as well!
Kelly Wooley is a Marketing specialist at Cook Children’s. She is writing a series of blogs chronicling the birth of her daughter Avery and their time spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.