2 years ago on this day, exactly 3 weeks after she was born, Allie came home from the NICU!! This day, like Ryan's, I secretly celebrate with great joy and much reminiscence.
All ready for her first ride. Too bad we couldn't get a picture that wasn't blurry!
Brother and sister re-united! The days that Allie was still in the NICU (2 full days and 2 half days) were a form of torture. The first visit after Ryan came home, I went by myself. I got there and discovered that they had completely cleaned out everything from his side. It was wide open. And then I looked and saw little Allie, wide awake, looking at the big empty room. She had never once been awake when I visited, and it broke my heart because I knew that she knew. I knelt by her isolette and cried. The next day, I missed one of my usual visits because Lucas was away longer than expected. Lucas still remembers that being one of the most emotional confrontations with him being in big trouble. I was so thrilled when she got a roommate the next day. Sure she didn't know him, and that meant strangers were there when we came to visit, but at least she wasn't so completely alone.
Our family just outside the NICU. Going home!! When we got to the hospital there were tons of fire trucks and police cars at the main entrance. We couldn't even park at the main garage. I was afraid that they wouldn't let me get to the NICU, or worse, take my baby home that day. We parked in the far garage, and I practically ran (carrying Ryan in his car seat, and dragging my mom behind me) through the entire hospital to get to the NICU. Thankfully, no one there even knew anything was going on. Her discharge was still on (and couldn't happen fast enough!). Leaving, however, was unexpectedly bittersweet. I was so happy to finally have both my babies home, but everyone in the NICU (a few nurses especially) had come to feel like friends, and even a little like family. They were the substitute mommies when, for the twins health and safety, I couldn't be. I had begun to look forward to seeing them, and it was sad to say goodbye. We still keep in touch with our favorite of the NICU nurses, and I sometimes can't wait for the twins to really know who she is and build and appreciate that bond.
WE'RE HOME!!!!! Peanut, when we got home we laid you and your brother in your side-by-side bassinets, and you both turned toward the side that separated you and put your hands up. And your brother suddenly started sleeping better. I could tell that he missed you just as much as you missed him. You were both so happy to be back together! And I was so happy to finally have you home, and hold you and feed you and love on you. You came home still having occasional spells when you ate(feeding is an overwhelming task to preemies, and Allie's heart rate would often drop and she would sort of sputter). The doctors felt confident in my ability to handle these spells, but it was literally weeks before I would let anyone else feed you. And even then, it was rare that I let anyone else feed you for months (long after you were finished having spells). I would take out the bottle and pat your back and talk softly to you until everything was right again and you were ready to finish your bottle. It just happened that the first week they were both home was Lucas' busiest week of the month. He had evening meetings and ministry events 5 of the nights! I called friends who had offered help, and enjoyed being able to finally show off my babies. My memories of that first week are all of dimmed lights, soft voices, warm snuggles, and constant, unspeakable joy. 2 years later our days are no less busy (although in a different way), but much more noisy! I did not spend the whole day holding you (like I did your brother - he taught me my lesson!), but you make up for it most mornings when you crawl into my bed and snuggle close to me. You and your brother get on each others' nerves plenty, but I can tell that you ultimately LOVE being together, and miss each other when you are apart. If you wake up from nap time before your brother you always try to open his door, and if I won't let you go in and wake him up you scream in the hallway (knowing that your screams will wake him up and you'll get to go in and see him!). You still have a bad habit of over-filling your mouth when you eat, and I have to remind you to stop, chew, and swallow before moving on (or before you give up and spit everything out...) And even though I get frustrated and sometimes (more often than I'd like) yell, my days with you are still filled with unspeakable joy. Happy Homecoming day, Baby Girl!!