This is Ezekiel, my smart, energetic, adventurous, adorable and absolutely hilarious little man. He’s also my preemie. Or rather, he was my preemie. 16 months ago, my pregnancy ended 2 months early and we found ourselves hovering over an isolette containing my heart. There before us was our teeny, tiny little boy fighting for his life. He was born spontaneously at only 31 weeks gestation and weighed a whopping 4lbs 5oz. (I say “whopping” facetiously but in reality that is really great size for that gestational age.) Immediately after he was born Zeke made it clear to everyone, that though he was struggling, he was most certainly surviving. Losing him was never much of a fear for us but that didn’t change the fact that he was fighting simply to live. The impact of that alone has left a lasting imprint on my soul. Amazingly enough Zeke was breathing on his own and never received any oxygen. He was put on CPAP for the first several hours and given a feeding tube. It took 14 long hours before I as able to hold him.
He spent 31 days capturing the hearts of every NICU Nurse. He had his ups and downs, graduating from his incubator to an open crib, only to go back into his incubator less than 10 hours later. He spent hours at a time “kangarooing” with me throughout the day and with his Dad at night. He was fed the little breast milk I was able to supply supplemented with a bit of formula through his feeding tube that had been moved from his mouth to his nose. He was 33 weeks before attempting to breast feed but was still too weak to get the job done. He slowly began to develop his suck/swallow ability and finally he was able to take full feeds from a bottle. It was at that time Zeke decided he had it figured out and yanked out his own feeding tube. We were told he had a criteria to meet before he could leave. 1) He could keep his temperature up on his own 2) He could take full feeds by nursing or from a bottle and 3) He had to pass a carseat test.
Finally we got word that he would be discharged the next day. It was extra exciting because that weekend was Father’s Day. I called the hubs and gave him the great news. He immediately left work and rushed to meet us so that we could take care of the discharge paperwork. The poor guy arrived to find me in tears because Zeke desat’d (his oxygen level got too low) and didn’t recover fast enough and when that happens there is a mandatory supervision period of 5 days. That was a huge blow. The emotional ups and downs of the NICU is such a mental struggle. You have to remind yourself that the only thing that matters is that your sweet little one is strong and healthy enough to be discharged. As much as we wanted out of there, we wanted out of there with a healthy baby. We celebrated my husbands first Father’s Day in the NICU and prepared things for Zeke’s homecoming. Those last 5 days were uneventful and finally, on his 1 Month birthday, he became a NICU graduate.