Two years ago, we put a stocking hat on our three-month-old baby’s head and placed him into his carseat. Our boy weighed 6lbs 5ozs and was on oxygen support; he had lived in the NICU for 93 days.
He was about to see the sunshine for the first time in his life.
I will never forget what it was like as we walked out of the hospital – with our baby in our arms. Nurses were cheering and clapping. The halls were a buzz of excitement. I felt butterflies in my belly – I kept thinking someone had made a mistake – that they would stop us in the hall and tell us Jax had to stay. After all, it was a full month before his due date. Jax was technically negative-one-month-old. He wasn’t supposed to be coming home yet! (We know that his Guardian Angel, Grandpa Mike had a lot to do with his early discharge.)
I also remember the sad looks on the other parent’s faces. I understood. I knew how difficult it was to watch a baby leave the NICU when you weren’t sure if or when it was ever going to be your turn.
It was grueling – watching my helpless premature baby fight for his life in the NICU. Some days, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Most days, I wondered why. Every day, I loved that little boy with a ferocity I had never felt before.
The NICU experience changed me. I am no longer the person I once was and that’s ok with me. I have a bit more gratitude and grace. I know I can do things that I never thought I could do. I have a better appreciation for life and for Guardian Angels.
Today, we celebrate our 23-week preemie! He’s a toddler now…
- Jax is 27 months old.
- He weighs 32 pounds and is over 3 feet tall. He’s in the 90th percentile for height and 80th percentile for weight. (When he was born, he weighed 1lb 8oz and was 11 3/4 inches long.)
- He runs and jumps and laughs and plays. He will play by himself for long periods of time. He loves to play with his cousins and misses them when they are not here. He asks “Where’s the Date? (Where is Dayton?)”
- He talks. All the time. He speech is drastically improving with the help of a new speech therapist. He says over 50 words consistently and is starting to use 3 word sentences. His favorite things to say are:
- Where’s the mama (dada, gramma)?
- What is that? OH – it’s a CWOCK (clock)! (This is a huge improvement from when he would scream at the top of his lungs, in public “OH – it’s a COCK!”)
- Where did he go? Is dada at work?
- Jax loves to eat. His favorite foods are hummus, green beans, scrambled eggs, “snacks” (crackers), cucumber, ground beef, and chicken. He spits out broccoli and zucchini. He loves spicy, flavorful foods like curry and chili.
- He helps mama get the milk out of the fridge. He sweeps the floor with his broom. He (sometimes) picks up his toys. He loves to pretend to cook at his play kitchen.
- We go on nature hikes every day. He loves sticks, rocks, acorns, and squirrels.
- He loves to read books and often surrounds himself with stacks and stacks of books on the couch.
- He loves dogs and cats and we would probably be the coolest parents ever if we got a pet. (Maybe next spring!)
Happy homecoming anniversary, little buddy! We’re glad you’re here.