Sometimes I get attached to families and their babies. Not all of them, but for some reason certain people and their babies just get to me. And I love them....maybe behind the scenes without totally freaking them out... But I love them. I connect with what they're going through and I get teary and choked up just thinking bout them.
That's how I felt, and still do, about Henry and his sweet parents, Nikki and Matt.
I first heard of them while I was swimming with my 3 year...a very sweet 3 year old who is happy and healthy at home. My husband came outside and told me that one of his coworkers friends had just had a baby at 23 weeks. Instantly my eyes started getting that tingly feeling and my throat started to choke. 23 weeks. Twenty-three weeks. My husband said his coworker asked if maybe we could talk to them. I cried...luckily in the water so you couldn't tell!
The first thing that I thought was holy crap 23 weeks. I can't talk to these people. What do I say to someone who's baby isn't going to make it? As awful as that sounds, that's what went through my head. Our friends 24 weeker barely survived...23 weeks?!?! I was sick to my stomach. After having 2 kids, the thought of anyone losing a child makes my entire body go into a spiral.
I didn't know what to do and I didn't want to go meet her because I KNEW I was going to get attached and want to be there for them. They were at our hospital with our doctors and nurses. And that scared the living you know what out of me. It scared me.
But it wasn't about me. It was about them, their time, their baby and they needed support. So I went and gathered some things that they'd get to use once they took their baby home. I hoped that having things to use later would be encouraging. I'm not sure if it was but fast forward 4 months....
GUESS WHO WENT HOME?!?!?!
Henry is by far one of the most amazing NICU journeys I have ever been able to witness. Every time I tell someone about him I get goosies. It is so phenomanal that Henry survived being so early...but to survive with NO medical issues...that is so freakin amazing! Please read her brief journey below and visit her website to read the more detailed stories she wrote while they were in the NICU. They are so inspiring!! GO HENRY!!!!
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The story of the struggle for Henry and his entrance to life; a fighting 23 weeker!
My name is Nikki Thompson, I am a caterer, restaurant owner and baby blogger! My husband Matt, is my best friend and the love of my life. We both went to culinary school right out of high school and started dating and fell in love almost immediately. We got married at 23 and decided at 26 that the love that we shared was too special not to create another person together to add into this perfect life that we ave created. From there it was a hard road, month after month, negative after negative we started to lose hope. Maybe we were brought together to just stay the two of us. We went to a fertility clinic to get to the bottom of it, we were giving the heartbreaking diagnosis of “unexplained infertility”, and we were told that IVF would be the only option for us. We spent our late 20’s lying to friends and family about why we didn’t have kids by telling people that we just weren’t ready or we didn’t like kids, the truth was far too real to share.
In October 2015 we took the plunge at started our round of IVF. Every night, at the same time, Matt gave me 3 shots in the stomach and 1 in the butt. It didn’t matter where we were, in a parking lot, at a dinner party, at a park, no one knew so we didn’t let it interfere with our day to day life. After my egg retrieval in December I got sick with Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome. I wasn’t able to move for 2 weeks I was so sick, so my cycle was canceled and all of our embryos were frozen. In January we started again and got our positive in February! From there I had a very easy pregnancy, no morning sickness, no real cravings, our baby was healthy and we were so excited to meet him, Henry, in October!
On June 25 everything changed, I was 23 week and 1 day pregnant. We were catering a wedding and I started having cramps. Every hour they got stronger and more frequent, the pain became unbearable as the last of the desserts went out and when I went to the bathroom I was bleeding. We raced to the emergency room and my pain was so so intense and like nothing I had ever felt before, I feared for my child, and I was sure that he was in distress. I was taken back to the room and the contractions got more and more intense, this was labor. A doctor came in and said, Your baby is probably coming in the next 12 hours and he probably wont survive. That began our whirlwind in the ER, triage then of course labor and delivery. 2 epidurals, 1 spinal tap, 1 surgery and 1 surgery reversal later Henry was born! 23 weeks and 5 days at 1 pound 6 ounces, he went straight to the NICU. We had quite a road. Henry is a NICU all star and while he had some tough days and was in critical condition for a bit he soared most of the time.
The NICU is a scary place in the beginning. As the mom of a 23 weeker, I had to idea what to expect. I missed out on the excitement of a delivery, instead I was drawing in fear. I didn’t get to hold my baby for the first week, and even after that, his skin was so translucent and fragile I couldn’t caress and squeeze my baby. I couldn’t cover him in kisses for fear of over stimulation. I was a mom in theory, but I wasn’t able to do the regular mom things. Everyday I wondered If Henry would thrive. Would he survive at all?
I met Amanda after the second week in the NICU and she was a breathe of fresh air, she came with a basket of goodies and an outfit inside. She said “There’s something about being able to dress your baby for the first time that makes you feel like a mom”, I cried. The shirt that she brought me was one that was made for her baby when he was in the NICU, Walter. Walter was with her and I immediately fell in love with him, and even though he was a 25 weeker, he gave me hope that my 23 weeker would over come all of his obstacles. A couple of weeks later she brought another shirt and Henry got to put it on and she was right! This was a simple right of passage that I was happy to have under my belt! It’s so wonderful that she has started this revolution by helping so many mom’s like me, bond with there babies. It’s amazing what a small piece of fabric can do for the soul.
I’m happy to say that after 108 days Henry was discharged and is a beautiful miracle, thank god for the doctors and nurses at the TMC NICU for saving my baby and giving my family life!
For the full story and updates on my sweet little Henry, check out my blog LiveAndDineWell.com