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Challenge: NICU Parenting

32 Weeks

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On May 11, 2015, our world was flipped upside down. I was 32 weeks pregnant, looking forward to having our 4th of July baby. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning was a terrible, pounding headache. I took Tylenol and laid back down. My husband was a shift worker and was working overnight so I was alone. I woke back up a few hours later still with the pounding headache. I emailed my husband and told him what was going on. I am prone to migraines so I figured this was another one. I texted my boss and said I would not be in because I was afraid to drive with the headache (I tend to get sick with them). My husband came home and I still had the headache. I laid back down with him. When I got back up around 10am I got into the shower. When I came out I noticed my vision was blurry and I could not focus on things. I told my husband what was going on. I had gestational diabetes and he was afraid my sugar was out of sorts. He called my mom because I was not making a lot of sense at this point. I remember getting into the car and driving to the hospital, but my memory is very spotty.

When I got to the hospital my blood pressure was close to 200/195. When they took me back I had an eclamptic seizure. My husband thought he saw me take my last breath. Mike watched as I crashed and heard the nurse scream for doctors and help. He hit my forehead as hard as he could--he thought he lost me in that moment. After he did that I gasped and came back he said. My OBGYN happened to be there and looked at my husband and informed him she had to take the baby in order to save my life. I had an emergency C section and Connor was born. I was not out of the woods yet, but they told Mike to follow Connor to the NICU. After 36 hours of being on a ventilator, I woke up on my own. I have very little memory of the events of that day. The brain works in mysterious ways and truly does protect you from trauma. 36 hours later, I was meeting my son for the first time.

The video on your site sums up everything--no one knows how NICU babies are such fighters, nor do they know that WE parents in turn become fighters. The ups and the downs are constant. The joy and the sorrow are always right there at the surface. No one thinks they won't leave the hospital without their child but we all did and the world kept going on. The scene of the husband pushing the wife in the wheelchair shook me to the core and brought back so many memories of Mike pushing me up to see Connor. He used to push me like a crazy man just to elicit a laugh from me. Maybe he realized the sorrow that was always on the surface or maybe he needed me to be okay, but it's those private moments that we parents share that make the difference. Our NICU was a division of CHOP. We couldn't have asked for kinder, better, more caring nurses than the ones we had here. I will never forget one of our favorites nurses who looked at me one night as I held Connor. I said "He's our little miracle, Philomena," and she said, "But Mommy, you are our miracle too." No truer words were spoken. NICU Moms are fighters too. My focus once I woke up was Connor. He was in this world and I was determined to do everything right by him.

Connor is 2.5 (just yesterday!) and is the light of our lives. He is such a fighter and always has been. This little boy is saying his numbers and reading his letters and even beginning to spell! My little 32 week old preemie who was 4 pounds at birth is a rough and tough (and stubborn, ha ha) toddler. Sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel especially when all you want more than anything in the world is to be told you are allowed to take your child home with you. I can't say it gets easier. Every day in the NICU has its challenges, but at the end of the day, being a NICU parent makes you stronger without a doubt.

Adrienne and Mike Girouard

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