I got a call from Tricia from Common Bonds at the NICU. She was calling to ask me if I would be willing and able to come back to the NICU and be the guest speaker at the parent's night class. She told me that the class was on Life After NICU....and they just wanted me to come and share my story and my experience with baby Katea. I used to attend those classes every single Wednesday for the almost 5 months that I was in the NICU and I didn't even have to think about it when she asked. I told her I would love to do it, but warned her that I am the biggest crybaby, espeically when I have to talk about that. She told me it was ok because everyone else would probably be crying right along with me. She called me like a month in advance so that I would have time to prepare, but to be honest, I didn't prepare. I thought I'd just go and talk and answer questions....I didn't write down or rehearse anything. I had texted back and forth with Tricia up until the day came and we had decided that I was going to take baby Katea with me to the class so that everyone could see how big she is and how well she is doing. She doesn't quite react to the stranger danger thing and will go to anyone without crying, so Tricia thought it would be perfect for her to hold her while I talked.
The day of the parent class came and unfortunately baby Katea had a little cough so I opted not to take her with me. I showed up to the hospital and went back to the NICU. That was the first time I'd been back since we left there and there was a huge amount of emotion that slapped me in the face, that I totally wasn't expecting. I could feel the knot in my troat and tears in my eyes as I walked the hall to get to the NICU. That was a walk that I did every single day for 134 days.....that walk had a lot of emotion attached to it....happiness, worry, sadness, fear, tiredness, exhaustion, gratitude....and I hadn't walked it in several months. When I reached the NICU, I rang the doorbell thingy and they buzzed me in. Annica was charging that morning. She was one of baby Katea's primary nurses, and the only one that I don't keep in constant contact with. As soon as I saw her, I ran and gave her a big hug. That sparked the emotion in me and I teared up. I really tried to keep my composure because I'm such a crybaby...and Annica was always the primary nurse that got really uncomfortable when I would cry, and it was that awkwardness LOL Then I saw the receptionist that was always so nice to me....I gave her a hug too...I was choking back my tears the whole time as I stood there and talked to all the nurses and my friends who I spent almost 5 months of my life with. These were people I was so extremely grateful for....people whom I loved and respected and appreciated so much! Tricia came and gave me a big hug and as we were leaving the NICU sterile area to go to the classroom, Anjanette walked through the door. I love Anjanette. She's one of baby Katea's hospital mommies :) She gave me a big bear hug and was telling me how excited she is to come to baby's birthday party and how she can't believe she's turning one already. We chatted for a little bit and then it was time for us to head to the class. I couldn't believe how many people came to that class. When I was in the NICU, if I wasn't the only one in the class, there were maybe two of us. Noboday ever came....and I was kinda expecting it to be that way too. Tricia must have hyped me up or something because the class was full and all the moms there were thanking me and telling me how excited they were that I was there...and how amazing they thought I was for lasting so long in the NICU and for being willing to come back. There were so many people that the room was full. I got so nervous.
The class started and everyone went around the room introducing themselves and telling us their story. That's the part I loved when we were still there....getting to know and meet other families that were going through the same thing. When everyone was done introducing themselves, the time was turned over to me. I don't mind talking about my experience, and in fact I love sharing my story. The only thing I don't like is that I cry so much......I can not tell my story without crying. I started by apologizing to them for being such a crybaby and pretty much let them know that it was going to happen.....then I jumped right in. I started from the beginning, my pregnancy with twins......I just told my whole story.....how baby Katea was born, how we had to bury baby Cindy.....what it was like to be in the NICU for so long, and how I coped and survived. I cried, and cried a lot. And let me tell you, I'm an ugly cry-talker.....you know those people that can cry and talk at the same time and you still get the message and the crying adds to the emotion of it? Yeah, well that's totally NOT me....I am such an ugly cry-talker! I had to stop a few times throughout it just to catch my composure. LOL. I talked about how I made friends with my nurses, and how important it is to have primary nurses...and how close I am to them still to this day. I didn't know Anjanette had snuck in and was sitting behind me....LOL.....but I was glad she was there to hear me again say how thankful and grateful I am for her and the rest of my primarys! When I was done telling my story, I think most of the classroom was crying. I opened it up for anyone who had questions for me.........people asked and I answered the best I could. A lot of people wanted to know how I was able to stay positive throughout my whole NICU stay, because it really is hard. I really don't know the answer to that.....I made a lot of friends with the nurses, the RT's....the Common Bonds ladies.....and when I had a bad day, I'd just spend time with them and they would help lift my spirits. I took some pictures with me of baby Katea at 1 pound and of her now. I think it was nice for them to see how small she started, to hear how much she struggled....and still does....and how big and healthy and good she's doing now. She really is a miracle, as are all their children too!
The class ended and everyone left. I stayed behind with Tricia and Sharon, just cleaning up and talking a little bit. I was really glad they gave me that opportunity to come back and share my story, and I hope that one of the parents in that room found a little hope through my experience. I am so forever grateful for that place. The IMC NICU where my daughter lived for 134 days....the first 4 1/2 months of her life. Every person that works there that had a part in my story, I am so grateful for. What a great feeling it was to go back and give back!