This week, 2 years ago, we were spending the last few days in NICU. Our date of discharge had been arranged for the 21st July. Joseph had a few hoops to jump through. He was still on continuous monitoring, so he had to lose that. He still had a naso gastric tube in. And feeding was still a bit of an issue. But finally, two nights before discharge we were sent to the rooming in room.
This my bed. Our unit didn't have room for couples, so just mum would stay overnight. On the bed you can see newspapers, magazines and a tv remote. I had comfort, time to read, and my baby, who was in a lidless plastic box at the foot of the bed
The first night we spent together was funny. I had been warned about the "premmie gremlin" noise. When premature babies sleep, they make a racket. Snorting, creaking, weird noises, that sound porcine, not human. I got used to it straight away. That first night I awoke once, to do his feed, and to give him his medication, and I went straight back to sleep. My husband had arranged to come and see us in the morning, 7.30, before he went to work.
Apparently he'd been knocking for some time. I hadn't heard a thing! He continued knocking and then decided to just walk in. The first I knew of it was this booming whisper (you have to meet my husband to appreciate he can't whisper at all) "Kylie....Kylie...." I bolted upright, eyes wide open "What??? I'm asleep!"
There was a nurse in the the doorway laughing. Apparently its very unusual for the mum to sleep at all when rooming in. For the first time in our journey, I felt complete. And it gave me such confidence that it would all be ok once we got home. The second night was no different. In the morning, I woke up with a beaming smile, got Joseph ready for the day, and wheeled him into the unit so I could have breakfast. I came back and got him and we did all his discharge checks with the doctors. I wheeled him back into the unit again so I could do some paperwork at the general office.
I came back, and we sat, my husband, Joseph and I, and we waited, and waited and waited. Finally, the opthalmologist arrived to do Joseph's final ROP test, the dreaded eye test for Retinopathy of Prematurity. The consultant was so late that the dedicated ROP nurse had had to go home, and the nurse on duty wasn't confident. I offered to hold Joseph. The opthalmologist had met me before and had every confidence in me, so we did the test together. Although horrible, I was so glad it was me, comforting and holding my baby, whilst they held his eyes open. He gave us the all clear.
We could go home. We walked into the unit, tears in our eyes, and said goodbye. A nurse carried Joseph in his car seat to the car, and ensured he was in. I sat in the back seat. And we drove away from that hospital for the last time.