A letter to our preemie army

Our birth journey was honestly nothing I had imagine or ever dreamed of. We had mentally prepared for a premature birth, but I guess somewhere in my mind I thought maybe the odds would be in our favour and we'd have one of those 35 weekers who just go home.

Some things having a preemie and the lengthly NICU stay has taught me are: - take every day at a time - any accomplishment even small is an accomplishment - a step back are not always set backs just sometimes a necessary bump in the road to get to where you want to be - your partners are there to support you; use the support - talk about your feelings good and bad

The Nurses : I don't think I could ever say thank you enough. You all were the ones who stayed and took care of River. Thank you for showing us the ropes and teaching us how to take care of River and change him. We couldn't do much, but you let us do whatever we could. From checking his temperature, changing his diaper and soon bathing him. Thank you for dedicating your life to taking care of the babies in the NICU. Your dedication and selflessness taking time away from your own families to care for mine. I remember one nurse specifically would leave us the nicest notes on the white board. It was the week before we got discharged and River was only taking 20mls of a bottle. I felt soooo defeated. I asked the nurse upset if he was ever going to take a full bottle. She said to me it will happen and when it does its just a switch that goes off. I left feeling so upset like we'd be there forever. We came back the next morning to find a note on the white board that said "Mommy & Daddy I took my 3am feed and 6 am full feed in a bottle". It was like Christmas morning. Just like she had assured me the switch had gone off and that Saturday we were headed home.

The Drs / PSWS / RTs : The medical team at London Health Science Centre (Victoria Hospital) are absolutely outstanding. They all were so dedicating on helping our baby boy get the best medical care possible. They wanted to test him for every possible medical issue. Our one neonatologist was so dedicated in helping River and helping us understand what they were worried about. They showed us all the Xrays and scans, and kept us updated on everything.

Midwife : I wanted a midwife Sarah was honestly the best. I am a person that needs someone I can contact whenever and spend lots of time asking questions. Sarah allowed me to do all this. Right from my beginning of my pregnancy I told Sarah I had a gut feeling I'd be having River early. Then at 30 weeks I went into pre term labor and somehow kept River in until 35 weeks! When my water broke Luke quickly called Sarah to let her know we were on route to the hospital. When we got there Sarah was soon to arrive and start the process. She was so amazing and patient with my paranoid self. I started contracting, and as I was begging for drugs Sarah assured me it would all be over soon and we'd have River soon (this seemed like FOREVERRRR). When we finally went into the OR to start my epidural I was told that Luke couldn't come in. For me this really scared me, Luke was my rock and I needed him. Thankfully Sarah took his place and held me as I cried during the epidural. I was so scared and in so much pain. When River was born I quickly got to see him and grab a picture, but soon they realized he had some breathing issues. Sarah thankfully was able to go with River and stayed with him until Luke switched off with her. I honestly couldn't be more grateful I had a midwife. I felt all my questions answered and never felt alone.

The Ronald McDonald House : I volunteered at the RMH when in college so I had an understanding of it, but until you actually stay there you don't understand how amazing that place truly is. We only live 30 minutes from the hospital, but thats far enough when you have a sick child in the hospital. For 26 days we didn't have to worry about any meals, didn't have to worry where we'd sleep or how we'd afford it. I'm so blessed to have a place like this we could use because we needed it.

Our Parents : Where do I even start? First I need to thank Luke's parents for keeping me when on bed rest and for not disowning me when my water burst on their couch haha! Ever since I became pregnant I knew if I was ever half the mother as my mom and Bonnie I'd be the best mom out there. Our parents barely went a day without coming into the NICU to see us and River. They dedicated their month to making sure we, our dog Macie and our house were being taken care of. My moms recieved texts daily on how sad I was, how I didn't know how much more I could take and just crying because I wanted to be home. They both would text me back assuring me in time everything was going to be okay, but now as a mother myself I can only imagine how sad they must have felt themselves. Because when your child's hurting you are hurting. I couldn't thank our parents enough

Luke : To my amazing husband ; I don't think I could ever thank you enough for all that you have and will do. It was a crazy journey and you remained my rock through it all. When I was on bed rest you worked 60 hour weeks to try and make as much money to prepare for the baby as you could. You devoted your time to support us. I remember looking at you the moment we heard River cry, your eyes full of tears you just whispered how much you loved me. Before going into the operating room I quickly mentioned about a photo I really wanted of us three. You took your time alone waiting to come into the OR to find the picture you knew I wanted. You made it your mission to make sure we got that photo (and we got it). Thank you for going to the NICU at crazy hours of the night and morning to take a picture and update me on River (because I was pumping and recovering from my csection). For anyone who doesn't know we didn't get to hold River for a day or two because of his condition. It was the hardest thing ever. I remember the text you sent me telling me the Drs were going to let me hold him. The best was watching you watch me hold River for the first time. You cried as you knew how much I wanted and needed that moment. You held my hand through every Dr meeting we had to go through, and you held my hand through all the tears I cried. Thank you for telling me to go have a nap and rest because I was so emotionally drained and you knew I needed it. Thank you for assuring me everyday everything would be okay, because my anxiety made it hard to understand. Thank you for being the absolute best dad River could have.

And thank you to all the support from our family and friends through the entire journey. <3

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