by Hannah Botham
Today marks the twin’s one year anniversary of being HOME! Praise God for getting us through the NICU, the many miracles of healing in Margaret and Gianna, and for this past year of raising our girls at home.
Although today is the mark of being one year past the NICU, the NICU is still very present in me. I have never written about this trauma here on the blog, but I plan to change that starting today. Below is an entry from my NICU Journal. I wrote this a few hours before packing up our room and our girls and heading home. I pray that by sharing this publicly, it will help another NICU parent through the emotions, expectations, and reality of discharge day. God bless you!
I’m sitting here in room one, for the last time ever. And many thoughts are coming up for me.
Today is an ending. An ending to one of the most intense chapters of our lives. I’ve sat in this room for 72 days, waiting for THIS day to come. This room has held some of the biggest pains of my life, and also some of the biggest miracles.
The walls of this room have literally held me up in grief. I have found myself kneeled over in agony from watching procedures on our babies and I have leaned on the walls of this room. We have prayed some of our hardest prayers here, one of mine being “Lord please don’t take Margaret but IF YOU DO, protect my faith!” We have prayed some of our most grateful prayers in room one, when our daughters overcame breathing support, or hit the 3 pound milestone. This was the very room that I held my TWINS together for the first time. There has never been a moment so surreal and unique in my life, as when I realized that I grew two babies at the same time and was now able to hold them to my chest in awe and wonder at God’s goodness. This room has held some spectacular conversations between us and the staff, conversing late hours with the doctors about life. This room has held some very confusing moments, where we couldn’t wrap our brains around what was taking place before us. We have left our babies in this room countless times, in the hands of nurses who have rocked them, fed them and nurtured them FOR US so we could be home with our other children. This room has held so many moments of despair and yet moments of complete hopefulness too. This room is the room where I had my will stripped away from me more than any other time in my life, and this is the room where I began learning to trust. At the start of this pregnancy journey God spoke to me and told me these babies were my “trust twins.” I had NO IDEA how much He would ask me to trust that day. More than I thought humanly possible to surrender, I have surrendered more than I thought humanly capable to endure, I have endured, all right here in room one.
The one thing I never thought I’d feel in this room, was how hard it would be to leave. This room was a place many nights, where I had thoughts of running away from, when the pain was too intense for me to bare. I could not wait to get home, or so I thought. The day is here and I’m actually having a harder time leaving this room than I imagined. The fact is that this day is an ending, and endings have grief as a part of their nature. Endings mean loss. We will lose a lot leaving NICU: a loss of medical attention, a loss of familiarity, a loss of anticipation, a loss of support. There have been some intense memories here good and bad, but today we move away from their nearness as we leave this room for the last time. Everything that I’ve ever known of my babies has taken place in THIS one room. Since arriving, they’ve never been outside it, or even seen the daylight beyond it. Today changes a lot for us all.
I didn’t expect it, but I think the biggest trust actually begins today. I need to trust the Lord to be the babies monitor, doctor, nurse, advocate in ways that I haven’t needed to trust. I need to trust the Lord more with leaving the NICU than I ever did while enduring the NICU. I wish we could leave this trauma behind, and have today be a day full of ONLY joy, but the reality is that these 72 days have left a mark on our hearts that will never fade. And it doesn’t have to. I will learn to simulate this NICU experience into joy and gratitude for the miracles. I will learn to smile when I think of this birth and the 2.5 months lived here in room one. Why? Because although it hurt me and although it scared me, it has blessed me more than anything before. Leaving the NICU is an ending, but it is also a beginning. And I will trust the Lord to lead us through the next chapter, as He has lead us through this one.
Jesus I trust in you. Take my shaky hands and bless me with a calm trust in You today. We are leaving behind what we know, and walking out into total surrender to you. Jesus hold us close and show us each step to take. We trust you Lord. We love you. Thank you for what you did for us in ROOM 1.
About the Author:
Hannah Botham hopes this blog post offers encouragement and solidarity to those who have been through a preemie pregnancy and birth trauma and the NICU journey. She also has a blog – Hannanbotham.com where she discusses those topics as well as homeschooling, finances, marriage and more.
Hannah is married with 5 children, her youngest twins being her preemies. Her husband, Aaron and their children live in North Idaho.