A Great Big Giant Thank You

It’s taken two weeks for us to start to settle into this new life we’re living, all three of us finding new schedules and new ways of doing things. We’re busy every second of the day and we’re loving every minute of it. And neither Don or I have forgotten a bit about every single one of you and the huge part you played in getting the three of us united here at home, at last.

Having her here with us, being able to just be with her 24 hours a day, it’s easy to get lost in thought and reminisce about where we began. The last eight months have been an adventure for sure, with some up days and some down days, some amazing memories and some heartfelt sadness, too. Along the way our lives were touched, each and every day, by hundreds of people; some worked in tandem with us the whole journey, others came and went in a heartbeat and likely have no idea how they’ve impacted us. We’ve made lifelong friends who would have remained strangers if not for Nyana’s premature arrival. And for all of it, there are a few people who deserve special recognition.

  • Nurse Awesome. If there’s one person above all that we’re grateful for, Nurse Awesome deserves a great big, giant thank you. She joined the Sunshine Brigade way back in October, before Nyana was even a month old. The first time I remember having her as our nurse, before we asked her to primary, was Don’s birthday—I remember giving her a onesie that was six pounds too big for Nyana, a red long-sleeve onesie that read “I LOVE DADDY”, and the two of us giggled at how huge it was but she said sure, I’ll put her in it for when you come back tonight with Don. At the end of her four day set with us, she asked if she could interview us for a class she was taking. We sat in the Second Cup for more than two hours talking to her, and we asked her to be our primary the next day. We learned that her sister was born prematurely and came home with a g-tube nearly 30 years ago. She recounted tales from her childhood and brought us photos of her sister as a babe, and reminded us that preemies grow into real people. She was on shift for Don’s birthday, and for my birthday weekend while we enjoyed our staycation. She was on shift with us on Christmas Day, and she was the one with us on the day we finally brought Babygirl home. She had no idea what kind of commitment she was making when she agreed to be our primary seven months ago, and I honestly don’t know how to thank her for the care she gave Ny and the peace of mind she gave Don and me. Her name is Heidi, and she is Awesome.

  • Team Awesome. The other two-thirds of Team Awesome are Doctor Awesome and RT Awesome. Doctor Awesome liked to remind me that I first met her upstairs on the antepartum ward, before Nyana was born, as she spoke with me about the risks and potential complications of a baby born before 28 weeks gestation. But my first memory of her is sitting beside Nyana’s solarium about two weeks after she was born, as she complimented me on my red toenails. This is only worth mentioning because my toenails are one thing I’ve never really paid much attention to, but in the early, scary days following Nyana’s birth, a quick home pedicure seemed like an easy pick-me-up, a splash of colour in an otherwise bleak world. Her compliment stuck with me and I’ve kept my toenails fire engine red since. Doctor Awesome was always truthful while at the same time being tactful—a trait hard to come by in medical professionals. She had an air of calm around her and it rubbed off easily, and she made the whole situation just a little less scary. There were many heated discussions with many doctors and nurses, and many times Doctor Awesome was called in because she was always able to connect with me and ease my mind. I will be eternally grateful that she was part of our adventure.

    RT Awesome saved my sanity. It’s true. She’s one of the more senior respiratory therapists and she’d always been in and out of Nyana’s care, but she joined the Sunshine Brigade full-time in January when my exasperation over lack of communication was reaching critical levels. At the time we’d been trapped in respiratory limbo—too big for CPAP and too small for bipap and too many doctors and too many opinions to make any solid decisions. She quickly became a voice of reason through the muddle of where do we go from here? She was the one who worked with me to develop a respiratory plan for Nyana, and who was willing to let me step in as much as I was comfortable, to ease the learning curve as we prepared for home. I honestly believe that if not for RT Awesome, we’d still be in the NICU spinning our wheels on what to try next.

  • Nurse Peachy and Nurse Sweetie. Rounding out our team of primaries were these two fine ladies. Neither of them rode along with the Sunshine Brigade as long as Heidi did, but they were both still invaluable to Don and me whenever they were on set. Having a team of three primaries meant that more often than not, the nurse caring for Nyana knew her. Nurse Peachy has three teenage children at home and we would spend hours through the afternoon discussing all the right and wrong ways to raise a child. She was great with Nyana and was always more than willing to gown-up and spend hours cuddling Nyana on the days I just couldn’t be there all day.

    Nyana had already had her g-tube inserted by the time Nurse Sweetie joined the Brigade; a girl close in age to Don and me, hailing from the same town Don grew up in back east. She had a great sense of humour, a great affection for Ny, and was always more than willing to step back and let Don and I figure out what we were doing. We knew that when she was on shift, Nyana was having a good time. Our awesome team of primary nurses—our guarantee that information communicated to doctors was coming from someone incredibly familiar with Nyana—meant that we just had one less thing to worry about. I used to do the math in my head—four days on, five days off… Peachy was there on Saturday, but Sweetie’s on her days off… oh crap. Random nurse today. Hope she’s on my Nice List. Knowing that we were walking in on a nurse who was 100% committed to Nyana made it that much easier to walk out on Nyana later, knowing she was in good hands. For all the moaning I did about nurses while we were in the NICU, nurses really are angels without wings. I can’t say thanks enough to our primary team—and all the nurses who ever cared for Nyana—for the work you do.

  • A bus driver named Rob. A bit random, sure, but an example of someone who touched our lives and probably doesn’t even realize it. It took about a month of hospital living for Don and I to figure out the timing of taking public transit to and from her solarium every day. We eventually fell into the pattern of catching a 10:10 PM bus home every evening, and every weeknight, without fail, the same driver picked us up. I don’t remember how it happened but one night we got to talking and we brought him up to date on Nyana’s story and told him how to get here, to this blog, to learn more. In the next few weeks he picked us up every night and told us of how his wife enjoyed the latest entry, and he told us stories of his own brood of kids as he ferried us home. He asked every night how she was doing and he told us that his wife was filling him in on details she’d learned from reading this blog. His route was changed the weekend that Nyana was extubated, and I remember being so excited that night to share the good news with him, and so disappointed when the new driver pulled up to our stop. I have no idea what route this man is driving now, or if his wife is still following along. But on the off chance he gets this message, thanks for listening to us every night.

  • The kind folks who work at McMillan and Ricoh. In one simple gesture, Don’s co-workers handed me a triple play: the best birthday ever, a chance to get off the roller coaster for 24 hours, and a restoration of my faith in people. From the moment our cab pulled up outside the Fairmont, until we handed back our room keys 24 hours later, Don and I were treated like royalty, like we were the only people in the hotel who had any importance whatsoever. And knowing that we were there on the kindness of people that I didn’t know, well that was just the icing on my birthday cake. Nearly one hundred people pitched in to give us a weekend we’ll never forget, and dare I say, for 24 hours I almost forgot about Nyana and the NICU. Special thanks to Gianna for the initiative.

  • The Sisterhood. We’ve called it a lot of things over the past year we’ve spent together—Winter Babies 2010, our birth club, a mom’s group—but this group of 87 women is far and above the second best thing to come out of my pregnancy. I know I’ve mentioned these ladies before but if I’m putting together a great big giant thank you, I’d be remiss not to mention them for the love and support they’ve shown me. They’ve laughed with me and cried with me and gotten angry with me. I can’t go a day—OK, an hour, who am I kidding— without checking in on this online community, and I know that I’ve made lifelong friendships out of these women I’ve never met. Thank you to each of you for believing in me and cheering me on. Thank you for the Best Mom Blog nomination, and thank you for the crib. Mostly, thanks for treating me like any other mother and appreciating that my worries are the same as yours, if only a bit more complicated.

  • Those who came before us. In the main reception of our NICU are two huge bulletin boards covered with I was a preemie, too! stories. In our early days, Don and I pored over all these stories, finding comfort in seeing other parents’ journeys, seeing families standing proud on the other side. As Nyana’s lung disease presented itself and we found ourselves facing the unknown, I spent hours doing research online and found the most helpful source of information was community message boards from parents who had walked this road before us. It’s one thing to do research and talk to the doctors and learn the medical specifications behind what’s going on with your child. It’s entirely different to talk the vetrans, those who have insight on the emotional toll the NICU bears and the joys and challenges of our unique situations. Special thanks here to Stacey and Brienne for always replying to my emails and answering the questions I had.

  • Those who walked with us. Nyana’s in-laws. Baby Neema’s mum and dad. Even the Smug Parents. The other families that walked the NICU halls were a source of great strength for Don and me during our months waiting for Nyana to come home; people who could be truly empathetic as we shared our separate adventures with each other. Whether it meant there was always a familiar face who totally understood and celebrated the tiny victories with us, or a perspective shift when someone else’s road took a wrong turn, knowing that we weren’t alone in our uncertainty was comforting. As with those who came before us, I know we made some lifelong friends during our stay in BC Women’s NICU, too.

  • Nyana’s Army. That’s you. Every one of you who stopped by here day after day to check in on us. All of you who wrote on our Facebook walls and commented on this blog and took the time to ask your congregation to pray for us. Maybe you’re family, maybe you’re an old friend from high school, or a colleague or a complete stranger who found this blog somewhere out in Internetland and kept coming back. You’ve been here cheering for Nyana and in turn, cheering for Don and me. It’s a symbiotic relationship, really; you kept reading and gave us the strength to keep going; we kept going to give you all something to cheer for. Having this blog as an outlet through our adventure has probably been the third best thing to come of our pregnancy— it’s given us a chance to give Nyana one of the most amazing baby books ever, and it’s allowed us a chance to connect with people we never would have met otherwise.

It’s purely coincidental that I’ve been working on this post for more than four days and now that I’m ready to finally post it, I had the kind of day today that warrants a giant thanks all of its own. I’ll save that for another post later this week but suffice it to say that for the second time in as many months, I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the kindness of others. In the eight months since Nyana was born, I’ve had more opportunity than ever before to grow into who I want to be, to see my partner in a whole new light, to embrace life’s challenges in a way I never imaged possible. And for that, Nyana, I owe you a great big giant thank you.

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About Mrs. B

Wife, mother, marketer--not always in that order. Lover of fine food, good company, and exceptional grammar. Mother of one former micro-preemie and one full-term monster baby. Building childhood memories in Vancouver's suburbs.
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15 Responses to A Great Big Giant Thank You

  1. Thank you for sharing with us… Love it all.
    The relationships made through such an experience are life changing. Our tiny little ones early arrivals really do impact life in more ways then imagined. I can’t even say all that I think or feel, your thoughts on your experience are very cathartic for me. Thank you. I am glad I found your blog. It has been wonderful to look forward to and therapeutic for me to read as well.

  2. Chantal says:

    Thank you for thanking us! We do it because we love you, we love Don and we love Ny.

    Now for that secret sisterhood handshake… 😉

    ❤ Hugs and love from Addison, Ryan and I.

  3. Arrgh, I commented at length but just got the computer back from a good scrubbing for virus and of course it scrubbed away all of my cookies so when I didn’t notice to fill in my name and such, post was sent out to nowhere in the ether.

    Will return later with a real post, but yours was a great one.

  4. Tom Wiebe says:

    Trajan’s super excited to finally see Nyana on the Seawall tomorrow and, we’re very glad that when we go to the hospital for Trajan’s eye exam this afternoon, we won’t know anyone in the NICU who isn’t getting paid to be there!

  5. Mary Ward says:

    Thank you for bringing us along on your journey. It’s lifted my spirits and my belief in goodness in this world. It’s been a spiritual trip for all of us. I look forward to watching Nyana grow and watching you grow as parents. Parenthood is the biggest and best job in the world!

  6. Zipporah M says:

    It’s been an honor and delight to know you both (Don and Karen). You will always be part of us. I must say Nyana is blessed to have you guys as her parents and vice versa. Even though our little angel is in heaven (Neema) I know she is so proud of Nyana and cheering her on. We’ll forever be grateful for your kindness, love and generosity the 5 months we spent with you guys at C&W. You rock Nyana!

  7. Amanda says:

    I am so happy and proud of all of you! You me and Jocelyn were inseperable in West Vernon Elementry and I knew back then that you would grow to become a beautiful strong woman because I seen that strength in you back then. You and your family derserve all the happiness in the world Karen! Thank you for this blog and allowing me (and others) to share in your journey. Much Love and Happy Tears to all of you ❤ And I will forever be a proud member of Nys Army.

  8. Tammy Gauthier says:

    I’m sure I speak for the other 86 women in our sisterhood when I say that we are just as thankful to have you in our lives as you are to have us. You have been an inspiration to all of us. Whenever life gets hectic with baby B, I just pull up your blog and read it!
    Hugs and kisses to you, Don and Nyana xoxo 😉

  9. agilemom says:

    Your post made me cry with amazement, and I am not a crier! Nyana has had so much support in her first few months! I am so proud to be a member of Ny’s Army and grateful to be part of our group. Like Tammy said, you, Don, & Nyana inspire us all. The 87 of us really are very lucky to have ‘met’! ❤ & hugs 🙂

  10. Max's Mum says:

    You guys are an inspiration. Even to someone who’s “been before you.”
    Thanks for letting us share in your awesome lives.

  11. Pingback: vancouvermom top 30 fabulous mom bloggers and evening to remember! >> Rants n' Rascals

  12. janice says:

    Karen-
    It was great to meet you at the blogging event last night. Congratulations and best of all to you!
    janice

  13. Stacey & Lucy says:

    Thank you for taking care of Lucy’s soul sister and being such a great Mom… Lucy & Ny are going to rule the world!!

  14. Monika says:

    This is so sweet and wonderful. It was really awesome to meet you yesterday, you are a lot of fun!

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