By: Heather Somaini
Free had a bit of a rough start. His breathing was funny and he needed oxygen. He was exhausted when trying to eat so they inserted a feeding tube through his nose. They put him in the very quiet, very still Bay One of the NICU. He was pretty out of place there and we knew he needed to work his way through the other five Bays before he could go home. At least that’s what we thought.
I think it only took a few days before we decided that Free realized he had a pretty good thing going up there in the NICU. There was a nurse watching over him at all times. He didn’t have to do anything. He didn’t even have to eat – they did that for him. We started to worry that this was going to be his modus operandi – always getting everyone to do things for him – the prince in our house full of women. If he only knew what he was up against!
Leaving Free in the hospital to take Tere and Izzy home was heartbreaking. With all three of them at the hospital, even in different places, it felt ok. My family was in one place, one building with lots of people watching over them. After a couple days, Tere could even go upstairs by herself to see Free. Everyone came to see him – my Mom, my Dad, Tere’s friends, my brother, and sister-in-law. But there was one person who couldn’t. One person who had spent every living moment with him but now was so far away.
Well-babies can’t be taken off the maternity floor so there was no way to get her upstairs to the NICU until she was released from the hospital. But taking them home felt like we were leaving Free behind. As if we were starting our new life without him. I know it killed Tere and I’m sure I reassured her through my own doubt and pain that it would be ok, that we would come right back as often as possible. It’s hard not taking a baby home. Even though your brain tells you it’s fine, your heart knows that something is really, really wrong with this picture. By that time though, we were in a bit of survival mode. Getting two out of three home felt like a huge accomplishment. I knew I just had to go back into the fire zone and bring home one more!
We brought Izzy to the NICU the very next day and had the twins together. I don’t know what I expected – some sort of amazing moment for them – but it didn’t happen. They slept. The only funny thing was that some random woman in the elevator commented on how good I looked for having a 4-day-old. I just went with it, smiled and nodded. It was only the beginning of crazy things people would say to us.
They never really tell you what’s going to happen with your baby, probably because they don’t know. Free just kept getting stronger and was doing more on his own. One day we arrived and the nurse told us that he had pulled his feeding tube out. I was in shock – how totally crazy is it for him to know that he wanted that thing out and to just pull on it? He can’t even grasp things for goodness sakes! But he did. Our fighter, our little boy who could. The next day, he pulled the feeding tube out again.
Soon they moved him to Bay Two. It felt like a huge accomplishment but we still had four Bays to go! Right? Yeah, not so much. Suddenly on Sunday, after telling us that “maybe” Free would come home some time in the middle of the next week, he was released to be taken home. Just like that. It was completely uneventful and rushed.
But we didn’t care, our little fighter boy was coming home.