The only way I was able to make it through that summer was from all of the help that I received. Russ, was so supportive and such a strength for me. We were going through this trial together and there were so many times where I felt like he was carrying me through it. Looking back now I feel ashamed that I didn’t do more to be there for him. He was always ready with a loving hug and an ‘everything will be okay’ pep talk. I relied on him more than I ever had in our 11 year marriage. He was always there to pick me up, dry my tears, and calm my fears. He is an amazing husband and father and I’m so thankful for his strength and his faith.
Our ward came to our aide in so many loving ways. We had members of our ward come every Saturday morning to watch our girls so Russ and I could go visit Jonathan together. (Russ works at the hospital so he would go visit Jonathan during the day and I would go when Russ got home from work.) Being able to visit Jonathan with Russ by my side was just what I needed by the end of the week. I will always cherish those moments where we sat in silence while we snuggled our little boy. We also had so many dinners brought to us. I don’t think I cooked dinner for a good month after Jonathan was born. We had countless notes, gifts, texts, etc. from members of our ward offering words of encouragement and letting us know that we were being prayed for. Hearing the phrase, ‘we are praying for you’ gave me so much strength. I was so humbled from the love and support we received. I truly felt the Savior’s love for me, and my family through the acts of service rendered by the sweet members of our ward family. I will always be so grateful for each and every one of them.
I felt so incredibly close to my Savior during this whole process. I had an increased desire to read my scriptures and to really study them. As I was would study I felt like I was gaining so many wonderful insights and my understanding and knowledge of gospel topics seemed to deepen. I could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost guiding my studies and leading me to topics that I needed to understand. I studied about the Atonement, tender mercies, blessings we receive from our temple covenants, and what it really means to endure our trials well. I relied on this knowledge when the heartache seemed to be too much to bear. I knew my Savior was giving me so many tender mercies each and every day. Knowing that by relying on Him was the only way I would be able to make it through this trial I seemed to be more aware of these daily tender mercies. I was able to recognize them when they happened. One tender mercy that occurred every day, with out fail, was the sunset.
Each night when I would leave the NICU the sun would be setting. As I mentioned before I used the drive home to get out all of my tears. Near my home there is this stretch of rode that you turn on and shortly after the turn you go around a small bend. Once around the bend you can see the western sky with hardly anything blocking it’s view. Each and every night when I would come around that bend and see the sunset I would feel and increase of the Spirit. It was telling me that I had made it through one more day and that I could make it through one more. I was so thankful for that daily reminder that I was receiving strength from my elder brother. Those sunsets gave me the little boost I needed to make through at least one more day.
Jonathan responded very well to the hormone shots. Those last three weeks seemed to pass rather quickly (well as quickly as they can when your baby is in the NICU). About a week and a half went by with no major hiccups and Jonathan was just getting better and better at bottle feeding. The doctors knew Jonathan was getting close to coming home so they wanted to try my breast milk again to see if he could tolerate it. I was excited but also nervous. What if his stomach plumped up again? Would we lose all the ground we had made? They started giving Jonathan my breast milk at just one feeding. He handled it well so they slowly increased the amount of breast milk and decreased the amount of formula. Pretty soon he was getting fed breast milk for every other feeding. He was finishing the bottles of breast milk with no problem but would not finish the formula bottles. It was very evident that he did not like the formula. This made my mama heart so happy! They took him off formula and gave him straight breast milk and he began emptying his bottles at every feeding.
We were about 5 days away from my due date, which was August 14th. They told us from the get go to plan on taking Jonathan home around that date. He was doing so well but I knew that he needed to finish his round of hormone shots and then wait for the results to see if his blood count levels increased. I was thinking that he would come home probably a week or two after his due date, hopefully. At that point I had given up most of my expectations and hopes. My heart had been broken so many times I didn’t think it could take me hoping he would be home by a certain date only to have that date pass with him still not home. I was just taking it one day at a time and celebrating every stop Jonathan made in the right direction.
On August 10th, one of the NICU doctor’s called to give me an update on Jonathan as they did every day. The doctor told me he was so happy with Jonathan’s progress and then he asked me if I was ready to take my baby home. I was shocked and could not hold back the tears. The doctor gave me instructions on making appointments with our pediatrician and with the pediatric cardiologist at Primary’s Children’s Hospital. My mind was reeling as I jotted down the notes. He then asked if would like to come to the hospital that night and spend the night in a room off the NICU with my little baby. I couldn’t say yes fast enough! That night, after 79 days, I was finally able to have my baby with me longer than three hours. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. My baby boy was coming home!
The next morning Jonathan was discharged from the hospital 11 weeks after being born. The sweet nurses loaded me up with everything they could and then I drove away from the hospital that had become what felt like a second home to me. A piece of my heart had been there for 79 days. I was so full of emotion as we drove out of the parking lot. Russ was home with the girls and had told them that they were FINALLY going to see their baby brother. Up until now they had only seen pictures and videos of him. As soon as they saw him they were smitten. They commented on his tiny hands and all of his hair. They just couldn’t get over how cute he was. We placed him in his swing and the three girls just stared at him. And I stared at the four of my sweet children, finally under one roof. My heart, finally in one piece again