Memories: Guardian Angel

Memories: Guardian Angel

guard·i·an an·gel
noun
a spirit that is believed to watch over and protect a person or place.

first hold2As I’m writing this post, it is currently 9:30pm on August 16th 2019. Two years ago around this very time of day I was able to hold Julia for the very first time since her birth four days prior. The reason I was not able to hold Julia sooner as most of you know, is because she suffered an HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy / a lack of oxygen to the brain that occurred during labor) event at birth and needed to be transferred very quickly to the children’s hospital NICU to begin receiving the cooling blanket treatment which, in order to be effective, has to be started within a certain amount of hours after birth.

During the time that she was on the cooling blanket we were not able to pick her up and hold her, we could only caress her head, hands and feet. This was such a difficult time for us as new parents for so many reasons; the trauma of her birth and events that came after it, coupled with the simple fact that we were first time parents who had built up an expectation for months and months that our baby would be born and we would get to hold her almost immediately. Nothing that happened during her birth or the aftermath could have been expected.

As I sat in the NICU holding my baby for the first time, I was surrounded by beeping machines, cool air and the smell of hand sanitizer, but in that moment, all that existed to me was her.
IMG_4696Her name tag said BABYGIRL,AUGUSTO but of course to us, she was Julia. Holding her felt like a miracle all on its own. All I could focus on were her big beautiful eyes that gazed up into mine. She seemed like she was deep in thought, and it felt like she recognized me somehow. This moment was it. All I had wanted for so long. It was the ultimate gift that night and a distraction from the reality of what was going on and the mystery of what lied ahead with her diagnosis.

On this particular night she was still hooked up to an NG tube for feeding but she was also beginning to practice on bottle feeds and seemed to be tolerating them.

When we left the NICU the night of August 16th to head back to our little dorm area that the hospital graciously provides to NICU parents, the plan was for Julia to be transferred to our local hospital’s lower level NICU in order to “feed and grow” for about a week and then be sent home after some additional monitoring.

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Right after the NG tube was removed 🙂

The next day when we went to the NICU I was able to hold Julia again and began giving her a bottle. Our nurse had gone for her break and a charge nurse had come in to cover for her. She watched as Julia was able to successfully take her feed from the bottle and she decided right then and there that she did not need the NG tube and promptly began to remove it. Just like that.

Later on that day after we came back to the NICU from lunch, we received wonderful and surprising news: The team had decided that it was not necessary for Julia to be transferred to the other hospital and that in fact, they felt she would be ready to be discharged the very next day..as in, discharged HOME!

11128178_10200452261946306_1450373999426566427_nWe were so happy, excited, nervous and scared. But mostly, happy. And it occurred to us that this message of great and unexpected news had come on my late grandmother’s birthday. I will always consider this to have been a little sign from her that she and my grandfather were watching over Julia. And I truly believe they both are. During the last half hour or so of my labor I remember asking my grandmother for the strength to continue. I truly felt like I couldn’t get through it anymore. And I’ll be honest, after Julia’s birth outcome I did struggled with feelings of why God would even allow this to happen. Why it is possible for any baby to be injured during the birth process. I still don’t have the answers to those feelings. But I do know that my grandmother was listening that night and she came through and brought us that wonderful news on her birthday as a sign that she was there and things were going to be alright.

Today as I finish this post it is, August 17th, and it would have been my grandmother’s 81st birthday if she were alive on Earth. I really wanted to take the time to share this memory. Whenever I think of Julia’s time in the NICU, I always think about my grandmother too, because looking back I really feel like she was helping Julia, and us to get through those difficult days.

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The day Julia finally came home, August 18th

When you have a child your world truly changes; everything begins to realign to fit the new reality of being a parent. One of the biggest things Julia has given to me is an expanded sense of purpose. From the first moment of her life she was fighting to live. She fought so hard those early days. She fought so hard her entire first year when she was being watched so closely for all her milestones. She has fought so hard and never stopped. She was a strong baby, and she’s turning into a strong girl and I feel comforted in my belief that she also has angels who are looking after her and helping her along her way. ❤︎

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