Eliza Grace was born on March 15, 2006, at 26 weeks, 4 days, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and measuring just 11.5 inches long. She is the light of my soul and this is the story of our life in the big city.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 23, 2006

Five years ago today, I walked out of Lenox Hill Hospital with a five pound baby, a couple of monitors, a bag of medicine, a handful of prescriptions, a list of doctor appointments and a portable O2 tank. The day we left Lenox Hill Hospital was bittersweet since many of the nurses and doctors had become like family to me.  Every single picture of the occasion is blurry since even the friend behind the camera was weeping.

On June 23, 2006, Eliza, my Mom, Dad and I strolled 500 yards to my apartment, an apartment from which I could see the NICU every day and night.

That walk on June 23, 2006 was the first time in her 100 days on this earth that Eliza had seen a blue sky, the sun, a tree, smelled a flower or even saw a good old NYC pigeon. We were brave and took an extra lap around the block so we could just feel, well, normal.

As a single parent, coming home alone with a medically complicated baby was daunting.  I had never heard of an oxygen concentrator, didn't know anyone whose baby had a handful of specialists, a dozen prescriptions or needed weekly doctor appointments. I knew of no other single parents in this situation.  I didn't sleep for the first week for more than an hour at a stretch since I was so afraid something would go wrong, or some machine would break and there was no one there to help.

But we figured it out on our own, with the help of some special people and frequent calls to and from the NICU.

Five years has flown by. I entered Lenox Hill Hospital in February 2006 with predictions that not only would Eliza not likely survive, but that I might not survive HELLP Syndome.  It was so bad at one point that my doctor recommended I have a guardian in place for Eliza if she were to survive and I did not.  Pretty surreal when you have not yet entered your third trimester.

But somehow, we have not only survived but thrived.

I can never thank the doctors and nurses enough for saving me and Eliza.  After about two months in the NICU Eliza was declared to be a "very, very good baby" by the head neonatologist at the time.   She didn't look "very, very good" to me, but he seemed to know something that I didn't, and thankfully he was right.

Eliza has not only been a very, very good baby, but she has grown to be a wonderful, delightful and remarkable little girl.  Eliza has worked so very hard to get where she is today and I give her full credit for all that she has achieved.

Oh the places you will go Eliza Grace, the very, very good baby.


Christina Dean said...

This May marked 7 years post NICU for our 25 weeker twins Audrey and Bethany. The memories of that wonderful hellhole do eventually fade! They never disappear but as we get more "life on the outside" those memories take precedence. I admire you very much, Anne!!!!

Barb said...

Beautiful, Anne. It's impossible to read this without tearing up. The good, good baby has a very good, good mother, and I'm always amazed and inspired by both of you and the beautiful, extraordinary family you've built. Thanks for continuing to share your incredible story with us.

Laraf123 said...

Your story, Eliza's story, continue to inspire me. I understand the SMC part but can only barely imagine the rest. You and your beautiful daughter are heroes. This is truly a day to celebrate, year after year.

catchupdaphne said...

Eliza is indeed very, very good. And you are a remarkable mother, Anne. We felt those same feelings the day we left the NICU: fear, joy, anticipation, sadness. It's such a momentous day. Hugs to you both.

Amy, John, Sam, and Frank said...

Love this!!! I remember when we first brought Sam home from the NICU, it was bittersweet for us too. We had made so many friends with the nurses/docs and such that it was hard to say goodbye. If I had it my way I would have had the NICU right next to our house! That way I could just look in the windows and know they were nearby :). Funny how that is!
So proud of your Eliza!!! Maybe whenever we get some kind of big micropreemie event get together we can all finally meet each other!

Sarah said...

Beautiful post! Happy Gotcha Day. Isn't it funny how people take for granted a simple walk around the block?

Catherine W said...

What a lovely post with beautiful accompanying photographs.

It so strange to think that our babies were months old before they saw anything outside of the hospital.

It must have been very frightening, having to deal with all the medical equipment and appointments on your own.

So glad that you and your beautiful girl pulled through and are here today, thriving and inspiring us all. xo

Robin Elizabeth said...

What a special day. I didn't know any single parents with micropreemies either. I am very glad that has changed!

Judy Young said...

Fantasitc. You have to keep reminding me about Eliza's tender beginnings because there's no evidence of it in the little girl that beats me in a race every time.

Mama Miya said...

Oh so lovely!!! What a beautiful story. I am sure you feel so much gratitude for Eliza. She is more than thriving, she is soaring!!!

Becky said...

I'm so happy for both of you. You're a great Mom!


The Pepperrific Life said...

I am so moved by your story. I feel I want to give Eliza a big hug... and you too, of course :). Keep up the good work, you two!

Anonymous said...

Anne: your journey with Eliza is incredible and inspiring! She is an awesome child and so lucky to have such a wonderful and dedicated mom. I wish you too the best and lots of fun in Kidergarten next year! Sarah (R's mom)

sarah.altoe said...

Anne, I have a 25 weaker myself, her name is Valentina. She is now 14 months old and still going through the ups and downs of motor delays, OT and PT sessions and quarantine due to RSV season.
I have read a few of your entries and this one just brought me down to tears. Congratulations to you both for coming so far... I know how hard it is. And I can only imagine what you must have gone through pulling through on your own. No WONDER your daughter is thriving :).

Watch out world, Eliza is here! The world is hers for the taking