October 06, 2016 · Belly + Baby

Our 23 days in the PICU at the Cleveland Clinic with Owen literally felt like an eternity.  Like time stood still while the rest of the world was ticking away.  As I walked into Claire’s room at Akron Children’s, I could hardly wrap my mommy brain around my baby being in the hospital for 294 days.  168 days passing before ever bringing twin brother, James, home for the first time.

When our family got the news of Claire and James’ arrival at a mere 23 weeks and 4 days, we were at a loss for words.  Given a 15% survival rate and with James needing open heart surgery in his near future, our hearts just could not shake what Barry and Rachel were feeling.  That helplessness that consumes you, when all that you can control from day to day is how many times you tell them you love them.  Everything else is out of your hands.

With every text that came down the line, and every prayer request sent out when doctors were not sure if the twins were going to be able to overcome this hurdle…and that one…John and I were praying.  I can distinctly remember multiple occasions where a text would come through and John and I would stop what we were doing, join hands…and pray.  Tears streaming down my cheeks as I prayed as a mother, for a mother.

Barry and Rachel will take on the role as prayer warriors for those they encounter in the future, whose stories will tug at their hearts in a way that transports them back to a single moment.  The type of moment that changes you, where you remember exactly what it feels like to fear for the life of your child and you can not help but pray as only someone who has walked in those shoes can pray.

Now, here we are, friends.  A day that most would say should never have come.  Both Claire and James were headed HOME.  Two of the cutest glasses-wearing, Captain-America-helmet-sporting kids I have ever seen!  Breaking out of this joint and only coming back as visitors!

Claire had quite the send-off, and has truly touched the hearts of these NICU nurses.  I could tell that within seconds of being in her room.  The way these nurses loved on Claire and James brought me to tears as I was editing these images.  Some stayed long after their night-shift had ended just to say their goodbyes and watch Claire be wheeled out those hospital doors and into her transport.  Her “princess carriage.”

These nurses will forever be a part of Claire and James’ story and in the hearts of this family of four for a lifetime.  The twins’ final time in the hospital was spent surrounded by staff that has invested so much of themselves into these little lives over the last ten months.  From a fellow Mommy to a sick baby, thank you, nurses.

Thank you for giving us tiny moments to smile about on days where we are not sure how much longer we can hold it together.

Thank you, nurses, for the kind of care that lets a worried mother sleep in her own bed…when part of her heart is still sleeping in a hospital crib.

Thank you for allowing yourselves to fall in love with our babies that have unknown futures, knowing the pain you may be setting yourself up to feel should that baby never make it home.

Thank you for being real…and vulnerable…and yet strong…and courageous.  We see you…we could not do this without you…and we love you so much.


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