For any parent, whether your baby was born at 24 weeks or at 42 weeks, weighed 1lb 7oz or 10lb 7oz, the moment you leave the hospital, put the baby in the car, and bring the baby home is the most amazing experience ever.
I once attended an information day for a nursing degree and the teacher asked “what is the most important day of a patient’s time in hospital?” Everyone had different answers, the day they get an answer, the day of their surgery, but no, it’s the day of discharge, and no day crystallises this more than the day a premature baby or any baby, goes home.
It was a Tuesday, the 21st July when Joseph finally got the ok to go home. The morning was spent with my favourite doctor and the consultant. They asked me lots of questions, had I done my resuscitation training? Had we got everything ready at home? Did I understand Joseph’s medication schedule? They did check after check, and Dr D made sure I understood how to diagnose a hernia, and explained at great lengths, pointing to his own gentleman bits, about testicles. (Fortunately he did keep his clothes on!)
Tuesday on our unit was “ophthalmology day”, the eye doctor normally came in the morning, but of course, on our day of discharge, he had had a few emergencies and was running late. He finally arrived at 2.30 pm and hurriedly rushing through the other patients to get to us. Finally Joseph was given the all clear. We went to the main special care area and said our goodbyes. We had cuddles and tears and then that was it. A nurse carried Joseph in his car seat, and we put him in the car.
I sat in the back, with tears in my eyes. I think our 15 minute journey took closer to 45 minutes. We gently lifted the car seat in the house, and scooped our tiny baby into our arms. My husband took him and showed him every room. We put him down on a cushion and just watched him. It was amazing. He was ours. We were home.
Here are some other people’s thoughts.
“The journey home was scary, I was so paranoid the oxygen canister would start leaking!” - Jess
“Feeling terrified my dad would crash the car, and looking round at the world outside thinking how much life had changed.” - Justine
“We drove home SOOO slowly - didn't want to go round corners or over speed bumps too fast... We then went over to some neighbours in the evening. Skye was REALLY unsettled all night and for much of the following week, feeding every 45 minu...tes or so and screaming in between unless cuddled. It was also one of the hottest weeks of the year and I was utterly paranoid that I was going to overheat her. So much so that we went out in the car once she'd been home for about a week and put the aircon on full blast. She screamed and screamed and it was a while before we realised she was cold! We put a blanket over her and turned the aircon down and she settled. Bless her!” - Ruth
“Just grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole way home :) agree with Justine’s comment, I definitely saw the world in a different way once our precious cargo was on board :) on coming home: James went out to get my dad from the station a few hours after we got home. It was the first time we had truly been alone, just us. What a feeling!! Me and my boy, I felt on top of the world” - Kirsty
“The 3 hour drive home from the hospital took about 5 hours that day and we needed to stop and feed her, stopped in a car park and I’m sure the woman in the next car though i was feeding a doll she was still so tiny...got some very odd looks!...
As soon as we stepped in the flat I felt a rush of relief and also had to pinch myself as we'd waited so long for that day. It was a few days before we had visitors we just wanted to settle in as a family. it was an amazing feeling.” - Sara
“Remember with Emma feeling so excited and then the first night we had her at the emergency doctors because she was making noises that she didn't do in the nursery. We were told to go home and get some sleep!! Cara's homecoming was different but hectic. We ...had an idea she'd be out soon but thought the weekend but on Monday morning during doctor rounds the nurse popped her head out the door and said you're going home today. Panic as nothing was ready so rushed home mad 2 hours and back to get her. Second time round it was much more relaxed and exciting. Won't be doing it again though” - Tracey