We are giving thanks.
Isabella Rose came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! After 112 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Carrie and Al and their beautiful daughter all slept under the same roof for the very first time.
Over the past week, as possibility turned into reality, the discharge date remained somewhat fluid. Therefore the family’s Thanksgiving Day plans continued to evolve. Had Isabella remained in the NICU through turkey day, we would have all gone out to dinner and then Carrie and Al would have headed back to the hospital. But with Izzy’s discharge, that needed to change because she can’t yet be out and about in the world with the general public.
So this afternoon Chuck and I picked up my Mom and went to Legal Sea Foods in Warwick, Rhode Island. Happily, in addition to their wonderful regular menu, they offered a traditional turkey dinner. The chef did a very nice job: moist turkey, classic sausage dressing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, cranberry sauce and gravy. They also featured an autumn cocktail dubbed The Maple Leaf - bourbon, maple syrup, ginger, lemon and orange juice. It was served in a martini glass and was a terrific accompaniment from the oysters, through the entree, all the way to dessert.
On our last visit to the NICU on Tuesday, Carrie had invited us to stop by their home after our dinner at Legal. The rules at the NICU were pretty simple. Everyone had to scrub up to the elbows upon arrival. Then, during the course of the visit, we would use a hand sanitizer as needed. For example, if I had been using the camera, I would use the hand sanitizer before giving Isabella a finger to squeeze. The discharge nurse and Isabella’s spectacular primary nurse had been very clear about what life at home should be like. Visits to the pediatrician need to be first visit of the morning or afternoon, so as to limit exposure to sick children. No going out in public, no crowds over to the house, no visits with other babies or children and everyone coming into the house needs to wash their hands and “Purell”.
As we walked up the to the house, there was Carrie holding Isabella in her arms, welcoming us through the storm door! Amazing! For the last three and a half months Izzy was always attached to monitors and tethered to the equipment near her incubator and later her crib. Even when her parents or family members held her, it needed to be while sitting in the recliner next to the computer screen which displayed her heart rate, respiration and oxygen levels. Now she was free and her Mom and Dad were obviously delighted! The great surprise was that Isabella seemed extra alert and aware. It was as if she was happily taking in her new surroundings; absorbing the details of “home”.
We had a lovely visit. The overarching feeling was how perfectly normal it all was! None of us would have ever wished for Isabella to be born at just 26 weeks. But the up side of that, is that ever since August 5th, Al and Carrie have had the benefit of hands on training and the advice and guidance of knowledgable nurses and doctors. All of that experience means we saw two very relaxed parents, relishing their newly-home daughter.
We are giving thanks.