"I love being at home" says Allie. Lots of Winnie the Pooh, lots of hugging and loving. Lots of that puppy dog, lots of Mommy and Daddy. This is just great! However, I miss my nurses at the NICU. Mommy says that when people stop being so sick with something called the flu or those nasty colds then I can visit and give my first friends some hugs!
Allie has been home for one month now and it has been terrific. We are in heaven with our baby right by our sides. We pick her up whenever we want - which is probably too much according to some researchers, but maybe not enough according to others. We play, we read, we take pictures (you guessed at that one, right?), and we eat. Oh yes... we change diapers and take baths, too. But, all of this would not have been possible for this now 6 pound + baby if it were not for the love and care of her NICU nurses at Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster, Alabama.
As all of you know, Allie was born 6 weeks early and weighed only 2 pounds and 5 ounces. Everything was exhausting to this little girl. Eating from a bottle was not even attempted until she was several weeks old. Tube feeding was the only way to get food into her tiny belly and keep her growing. Being held was limited to minutes per day to not waste the precious calories she needed to grow big and strong. I know for a fact that the nurses in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) are hand picked by God to welcome and care for these little babies. Many are in need more than Allie and some less than Allie. Not only are the babies in need of extra special care and attention, but their new Mommy's and Daddy's also need extra special care and attention. These nurses know just how to give it. Not only were the NICU nurses so wonderful, but my nurses and doctors were terrific. They seemed to understand how hard it was to not have my baby with me, they asked about her, they visited her in the NICU and even left us notes to say they had stopped by and enjoyed seeing Allie. They took such wonderful care of me. The experience was wonderful and I'm so lucky to have had my baby at Shelby Baptist. (And while I'm on the subject of "me", the nurses and staff in my doctor's office are awesome!! They got used to seeing me regularly during this pregnancy and they made things so comfortable and welcoming. Soon I'll bring Allie to see you, too!)
It is a unique person that can nurse a tiny newborn to health while also encouraging the new scared and uncertain parents. It is a different world to be thrust into when all the new parents around you are comfy in their rooms with their babies by their sides and you have to go to another section of the hosptial - past all the rooms with babies and their parents - to visit your baby in a tiny plastic box with scary tubes, monitors and lots of beeping. But, these NICU nurses seem to understand just how these parents feel and their compassion is obvious. The seem to know to give that extra smile, that extra word of encouragement, that extra compliment about the growing baby and sometime the extra space to allow the parents to just be with their babies - love, hope, prayers, fears and all.
During our stay in the NICU, Allie took on her personality - being labeled as "feisty" from the first day when she decided that monitors and feeding tubes were not a fun part of life. To just flat adorable and sweet. The nurses also slowly came into focus for Tim and I as we adjusted to a different life with our newborn girl. The first few days turned into weeks and I didn't completly notice anyone but Allie. The current nurse would give us the details of her progress and give us encouragement and space to be with Allie and I would appreciate all that the nurse did, but it wasn't until later that I came out of my own little "Allie-world" and really started to notice those around me. Lots of babies with lots of love and lots of nurses helping those tiny itty bitty babies and their big parents looking just as much in love with and scared for their babies as we felt. I can't single out any one nurse because all have played a special role in bringing Allie home to us and they know the roles they played. The roles range from keeping life as normal as possible with allowing us -and helping us -to hold our baby complete with montitors and tubes to finding a special hat to fit such a tiny head (thanks to the Threads of Love volunteers). The nurses took extra care and time to decorate Allie's little world - her isolette - with matching blankets and even dressing her Winnie the Pooh. The room and cribs and isolettes were also cheerily decorated with holiday decorations. All of this helps when new parents are in such a foreign and uncertain world. The role of a NICU nurse covers much more than the medical needs of a newborn - often born too early or needing special attention. These special nurses are also adapt at teaching new parents the "ins and outs" of a newborn. We learned all about why Allie didn't eat so well. She didn't know how! We had to teach her. The nurses taught us tricks and gave us encouragement. Still to this day when we have a hard time feeding Allie and I begin to get frustrated and wonder what I'm doing wrong, I'm reminded of the gentle words from her nurse, "Allie makes everyone look like a novice when it comes to feeding".
So much was learned and the days in the NICU - while I wouldn't want to do it again - were invaluable. It was a very difficult time and frustrating time. But, many happy memories of the love and care given in the NICU will remain with us. After all, we had our baby girl and she was thriving and she was growing and being loved even when we couldn't be there with her. The NICU nurses will always have a special place in our hearts.
To all of you at Shelby Baptist Medical Center -
THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!
THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!
With love and sincerity,
Tim, Sandy & Allie Lovell
P.S. If you'd rather your picture not be on this blog, please let me know and I'll remove it. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, this is only a few of the many wonderful members of the NICU. Sorry I couldn't post all of your pictures, you are all in our hearts forever.