Bringing Harley Bell home on April 30 was one of the best and scariest days of our lives. I had been counting down the days until we'd be discharged from the NICU and imagining life at home with her for so long. The hospital was getting old, really old. I couldn't wait to bring my baby home, show her the nursery, to take her for walks, to watch TV with her while she slept on me, and to just be "normal".
On Tuesday April 30th we waiting anxiously for the doctors and nurses to do their rounds. It had been 5 days since Harley had her last desaturation ( "desat" - oxygen levels are too low and not saturating the tissues enough). In the NICU babies needed to go 5 days without any desaturation episodes before they could be discharged to go home. This was our day! We signed all the discharge papers and took our baby girl home.
The first few weeks at home came with a lot of emotions. During our time in the hospital and NICU I never really felt any baby blues. Perhaps this was because we were always surrounded by people, the adrenaline was always high and it really felt like we were doing the bare minimum to care for Harley. Bringing her home was scary. We found ourselves constantly checking that she was breathing and bought the Owlet sock monitor for her to wear at all times to ensure her oxygen levels were okay. In the first month at home she had about 8 "desats" during feedings and the alarm on her Owlet sock would go off blaring. It was scary and tense but we knew she'd outgrow it and she did.
Being at home felt so quiet and strange! It felt a lot more lonely and I was nervous to leave the house with her for quite a few weeks. I remember sitting at home on May Long Weekend; it was a beautiful sunny day and as I scrolled through Instagram seeing everyone sitting out on patios with cold drinks I thought to myself "wow, this is life now." That was probably my most lonely and blue post-partum moment and I've been so fortunate not to have had any PPD.
Fast forward five months and here we are now! We feel like ourselves again and the NICU trauma really does feel like a distant memory. Harley has no outstanding issues from her pre-mature birth and is fully healthy, praise God. She is amazing and we can't believe how much love she has brought to our family. She is energetic, bright, always smiling and always happy. She's not the greatest sleeper ... but she's just a baby right? Haha. She's also been almost exclusively breastfed up until this point which is now posing to be a bit of an issue when she needs to take a bottle for a sitter but we are working on it! She's amazing to travel with and so easy going. We've taken her to Portland, California and will be taking her to Mexico this winter. She loves people and anyone can hold her without a fuss. She's our everything.
Having a pre-mature baby this year was definitely not anything we could've prepared for. At the end of the day this is what kept us grounded:
"God knew that Harley Bell was coming on March 15th, 2019 at only 31 weeks. We didn't know it but he always knew!"
If you've been following along our journey, thank you. If you've sent loving messages, thank you. Miracles do happen.