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  • Renee Burns

March, 2020- A pandemic 'homecoming'

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

I’m writing this while sitting with Vivian as she cries and attempts to digest milk. I’m surrounded by baby gear, clothing, books, moving boxes, and spit-up, lots of spit-up. Due to Viv’s stomach surgery we will be dealing with an exceptional amount of stressful feedings watching her struggle to keep nutrients down, and catching most of what comes back up on ourselves. At this present moment she is neither eating or sleeping, but is instead crying in an attempt to keep food down. This week we had eye appointments and doctor follow-ups to see how the feeding at home was going and to make sure that the girls were steadily gaining weight. They are growing- albeit they’re in the 3rd and 10th percentile- respectively. The results of the appointments mean we officially get to go home!

Yes- home to Duluth, to our little drafty house with our cat and our dog, our plants and our empty spare room, waiting to be set-up as a nursery. As Zach says, getting ready to transition home is coming with “all the feels”. The University of Minnesota Children’s hospital has been our home for 140+ days now- almost half a year. The staff and other NICU parents have become our friends, family, and confidants. It is both exciting and nerve-wracking to go the farthest we’ve been from this medical care team since last October. We are SO ready, and so not ready all at the same time. Being mindfully grounded throughout this experience has been easy and challenging at the same time. As we enter a new chapter going home I am reminded of coming to the end of long field courses- feeling crusty, dirty, burnt-out, ready for a warm shower and a beer. I have also likened this transition to vets re-integrating to civilian life. I know it does not EVEN come close, however it feels like we have been in our own kind of “battle” over the past few months, and only a select few will truly understand what we’ve seen- and working to slide back into “normal life” seems daunting.

I was asked the other day what recommendations I would give someone in my situation (being a therapist and all...) and all I could come up with was the cookie-cutter “self-care, boundaries, taking it one day at a time, and staying connected.” It seemed so cut-and-dry and basic....however I know acting on them will be challenging. We will be back to the twin cities in two weeks, and at least once monthly moving forward, for follow-ups through June. Currently these appointments bring a feeling of security, and I can only imagine how old the trips to the hospital will become in the future. But until then, we look forward to our return, and to show off the girls growth to our NICU family here.

As for the girls health, we’ll continue to track openings in both their hearts (not uncommon in Preemie’s, but if they do not close it could result in heart surgery), cysts on Eloise’s uterus, Viv’s duodenal atresia (stomach surgery), their eye development, alkaline-phosphate levels, bone density, lung disease, and Viv’s torticolis (only turning her head to one side), to name a few things....NOn-the-less, our warrior princesses have persisted and We are sooooo blessed with how healthy they are!! I mean seriously!! We get to go home this soon after their due-date?! Our little warrior princesses!! We would love to invite you ALL over to show them off, however due to the prematurity of their respiratory system, and the flu season- we will more-or-less be “self-quarantined” through spring/early summer. Stay tuned however for a possible “homecoming” party for the the burns party of four in Duluth this April (pictures of the girls will be present- the girls will not)....y’all will be invited to that!!! In the mean time, we will endeavor to keep our caring bridge up-to-date on Fridays, and there’s talk about possibly transitioning to a more formal blog site for those that care to continue to read about our life as a ferocious-foursome moving forward.

Keep your fingers crossed that we have a smooth trip north (appx. 3 hrs), and that our cat and dog don’t dis-own is this Sunday when we return with 2 more tiny creatures :-) Until then, we will continue to count our blessings everyday. Today, we are especially grateful for our amazing nurses who made it possible for our girls to get to this point to be able to go home. XOXO- With gratitude- ****** PS****** much to process between coming home, the excitement, and the general anxiety of being without medical support- and now with the precarious health reports’s too much to process for us at the end of a very long week- on Friday the 13th, the first week after daylight saving time, a full moon, and bringing preemies home during a pandemic.

Squeeze your love ones (but only if you’ve not traveled out of the country, and have washed your hands in recent weeks!)

To Be Continued...

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