Every expecting mother dreams of the day when she will be able to bring her newborn home. I had to wait 192 days after giving birth before getting that gift.
Like many women, I experienced morning sickness at the start of my pregnancy, but after two visits to the ER in August, I found out that I had a subchorionic hemorrhage and was put on bed rest for the rest of the month. I was able to return to work but began leaking amniotic fluid in October and was admitted into the high risk unit at the AdventHealth for Women Orlando campus, where I planned to stay for 10 weeks until I was 34 weeks along.
But that quickly changed. At 24 weeks and five days, my husband Chris and I welcomed a sweet baby girl named Remi, who only weighed one pound and seven ounces. Remi was immediately rushed to AdventHealth for Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where she was put on a breathing tube, and we prayed for our long journey ahead.
Although the NICU was scary, intimidating, and overwhelming, it was the most amazing experience. It taught my husband and me so much about ourselves and most importantly about our miracle who had to fight to stay alive. Every single one of Remi’s nurses, doctors, and therapists were the kindest, most knowledgeable people. They made sure Remi had the best care and always answered any questions we had, even if we had asked the same question the day before. They never made us feel like less of parents because our baby was in the NICU – they always included us in everything.
After three months in the NICU and multiple failed attempts to remove Remi’s breathing tube, the doctors put cameras down her nose where they discovered her vocal cords were severely swollen together, and she had mild swelling on her trachea. We immediately decided for Remi to get a trach, which is a tube in her neck that helps her breathe because she can’t on her own.
Throughout Remi’s stay at the NICU, we visited her every day and sometimes more than once. We’ll never forget all of her firsts there like changing her first diaper, holding her for the first time 10 days after she was born, and getting her first set of footprints done. Seeing Remi grow stronger every day is something we will never forget.
Remi was discharged about six months after she was born. Knowing we were finally going to take our miracle girl home was completely indescribable. My husband and I were nervous and overwhelmed with emotions, but we were also so thankful that we were going to get to show Remi the world.
Since Remi has a trach, she is on a ventilator with oxygen 24/7 and is fed through a tube in her stomach. She has been readmitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) twice and had open heart surgery in June to close a hole in her heart. She came home for the third time and is doing great. My hope for Remi is that she will grow stronger every single day and that she will be able to live a more normal life without all the cords holding her back, but we’re taking it day by day.
I didn’t get the gift of bringing home my newborn just a few days after giving birth, but I got something more. Being a NICU parent has shown me just how strong I can be and how great of a mom I am. It’s shown me how resilient my daughter already is even though she’s only 10 months old. It’s true that God gives his toughest battles to the toughest soldiers, and we’re thankful every day for Remi and the amazing team of doctors and nurses she has on her side. Remi is stronger than we could have ever imagined and will overcome everything in her way – especially with us in her corner.
– Jessica Jolliff