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  • Renee Burns

February, 2020- A NICU Graduation for 'baby b'!

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

I’m trying to type on my phone because there is a baby on my lap instead of a laptop...on our couch....in our apartment! Today is the girls full term, 40 weeks! It’s also my childhood best friends birthday today. When we started this journey I was excited to hear that my girls might share a birthday with her...they obviously had different plans. However, here I am, laying on the couch with hockey on the TV (I do live in MN, hockey’s on like every other channel) listening and watching Eloise breathe. This time last week we were welcoming a dear friend of Zach’s from Colorado, which ‘allowed’ Zach some much needed bro time before being full-time with the girls. Mid-week the rounding doc (who we had not worked with before) decided it was time to try the girls off all oxygen and see how they did on room air. Vivian was back on room air within 10-hrs due to her loosing stamina while eating, as well as dipping in her vitals. Eloise did great, which resulted in her doing a “car seat test”. What that entailed was Eloise sitting in her car seat for 2 hours, hooked up to the monitors, and not having any dips in vitals. She passed! We were proud...we knew the “discharge date” discussion would be next.


What we were not prepared for was the doc telling us the next day that if El maintained vitals/eating/weight gain she would be discharged within 48 hrs. It was the 1st time (of many to come I’m sure) I put on my mama bear pants and requested meetings with the team- it just all seemed too fast, and after 96 days of 1-step forward, 2/3-steps back, this new mom wanted to make sure the girls were taking enough steps forward to be safely discharged. After a whirlwind 24-hrs, meeting with docs, OT, dietitians, RNs, the social worker, etc....Here we are, at “home” in our little apartment in the twin cities with one of our daughters....it’s fucking crazy! (sorry, not sorry for the language). Mimi, Gramps, and Uncle Will (my family) had planned to visit this weekend- and I said to them- this will be great, it might be one of the last weekends to hang out before we’re 24-7 on with the girls....I said- there’s NO WAY they’ll be discharged by their due date- they’ve been through so much, they’re so fragile.....Eloise and Vivian are proving us wrong. So it was awesome to have them here to be part of the ceremonial/teary/nervous/shocking/exciting exiting of the hospital with Eloise tonight, on the night of her due date. Someone asked me what I had visualized for their discharge. Honestly, I had not visualized much because it all seemed so abstract. What I can say is I’ve been tossing around in my mind how to put into words the feeling that comes with “unplugging” my daughter for the last time. I remember the 1st time we “unplugged” the girls- it was when we were on the 4th floor and they were stable enough to put clothes on, and our dear, amazing, Wonder Woman of a nurse (one of our girls primary caregivers throughout) talked us through unplugging the girls from the monitors to thread the cords through their tiny clothing so their legs could go through the holes. I think Zach and I were both sweating bullets, as we unplugged, lost the sounds of beeps for maybe 10 seconds, then felt re-assured as we “plugged” them back in. In the past month we’ve gotten so accustomed to “unplugging/plugging” in the babies, that at times we’ve forgotten to plug them back in! Tonight is different. Tonight we “unplugged” El for the last time. Tonight we get to get off the couch, and without restraints of cords, we can walk across the room, down the hall, hell -we can get into the elevator if we want to! It’s an indescribable feeling of freedom. At the same time, it’s terrifying. After 96 days of hearing beeps, alarms, dings, and watching numbers letting us know if our girls are breathing or not...here we are in total silence (with the exception of hockey on tv in the background of course)- just relying on Eloise’s ability to do it on her own. I promise I will not sleep tonight as I do not have the dings to let me know how my girl is breathing. I have seen her turn blue, I have seen her need to be “bagged” (resuscitated), I have seen her temp drop, have seen her need to be “stimmed”. And here she is, laying on my chest, her back lifting ever so lightly, her quiet snores bringing me so much relief.....I will watch her all night long.


We, of course, have our hearts torn with Vivian still in the hospital. As of yesterday she was taken off O2 again, and is doing better. The “discharge” conversation has begun with her doc team, and we are excited to maybe bring in a car seat for her to try out before the weekend is over. But, as we’ve learned through through this experience, we can not get ahead of ourselves, and we know that the girls are both where they need to be right now, and Vivvy-Lou will let us know when her time will be.


Until then, we will bring Eloise back to the hospital every day to snuggle with Viv and continue to be her #1 cheerleader- just as they have been this whole time for each other.

We are tentatively hopeful that next weeks Friday check-in will come from the Burns party of four, reunited-outside of the hospital walls. With love and gratitude on this Friday night- 96 days/40 weeks!!


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