On June 30th, 2011 our lives changed forever when tiny, Hazel Mae Wingerden, entered the world.
She was born 8 1/2 weeks early due to spontaneous preterm labor that couldn't be stopped.
It was the scariest time of my life, up until that point, since she was so small and seemingly fragile,
at 3 lbs. 10 oz. and 16" long.
We had been warned, the week before, that if she were born, she would need to spend considerable time in the NICU...
likely up until her actual due date of August 30th. And so our NICU days began.
It was very difficult at first figuring out my way around all of the machines, doctors, nurses, monitors, etc.
And what my role really was...as her mother.
They made the decisions. I just watched.
That was very hard.
For a long time I didn't feel like we had bonded at all.
And I spent quite a few days in tears trying to cope with all of the changes happening around me
and filled with fear about what the future might hold for our daughter.
She did great at first. An "all-star" they called her.
Although during her first week, she ended up needing to be under the bilirubin lights for jaundice for several days.
She also ended up needing an IV in her head at 6 days old, since she kept pulling the ones in her hands out.
But she was strong - and a fighter - that we could tell immediately.
She would essentially forget she needed to breath. And this was the major hurdle we needed to overcome the rest of the time she spent there.
Some days the dips were so low, she would turn completely blue...purple...almost grayish.
Which really frightened me.
She needed oxygen blown in her face at times to bring her back.
My heart would drop, and I would pray so hard that she would come back up.
And each time, thankfully, she did.
That seemed a million miles away though at the time.
But she remained the light of my day...
Every time I arrived back in the NICU and saw her face, I will filled with joy.
My husband was my strength the entire time...
It was amazing to watch how attentive, tender and sweet he was with her.
He showed no fear and took on the role of Dad with ease...
Slowly Hazel grew bigger and stronger. And I gained confidence as her mom...
After 45 days in the NICU at Strong Hospital in Rochester, NY (for which we are ever indebted and grateful for),
Hazel was diagnosed with severe reflux, put on meds, and we were told she was ready to move on to a smaller hospital for the last leg of her care.
We spent the last 5 days at Highland Hospital with amazing nurses who really helped us to bond with our baby during her final week there.
And then it was time to head home...where we had longed to bring Hazel for the previous 5o days...
It was August 19th when we received the news that she would be going home. It was the best day ever.
She weighed 5 lbs. 14 oz. at the time and there were still lots of concerns, but we were ready to have our baby home with us.
That was almost a year ago now.
And on Saturday June 3oth, our - not-so-tiny-anymore - Hazel, turned one year old!
We had the biggest birthday bash ever in celebration (photos coming soon!)...
It has been one roller coaster of a year...with lots of ups and downs along the way.
And the ride isn't over yet, as we expect Hazel's brother to arrive in October (hopefully not much sooner!)
We would love to have the next experience go a little smoother...
but even if it doesn't, I am much more confident and prepared for whatever comes our way this time.
Thanks for all of your prayers, encouragement and support this past year! We are ever so grateful :)
Till next time...