Not Out of the Woods

I feel like I’m becoming numb to the alarms on each of Garrin’s machines at this point. I mean, obviously this numbness has its limits. For example when his sat level dips into the 40s, I very much feel that. Overall though, the beeps don’t seem to phase me too much anymore. What I am still not used to, however, is the very realistic, almost pessimistic, language used by some of his healthcare professionals. In the last 24 hours, three different nurse practitioners visited Garrin’s room, two of which were celebrating all of the good things Garrin has going for him while recognizing his current respiratory issues. The third NNP and I were visiting about Garrin’s progress from birth until now when she very matter of factly stated “But he’s not out of the woods yet.” I don’t know why that phrase bothered me so much, but it stuck with me into the evening and this morning. Obviously, I recognize that he’s not out of the woods. In fact, we have been told by several of the staff that every baby is so different that they can’t designate a milestone that correlates with being out of the woods. Maybe it was the tone or the moment in the conversation where it was used. I don’t know, but it got under my skin.

The more and more I have been thinking about it, the more I’ve come to believe that Garrin’s response to this and really any challenge he faces in life would and will be “Challenge accepted.” This kid, who should still be swimming in an amniotic sac in my tummy for another 14 weeks, already exudes my personality: “Oh, babies are supposed to grow for 40 weeks in utero before being born? How about 23 instead?” Garrin tells us what he wants when he wants it, and we are definitely on his schedule. Tell him he can’t do something or that he’s in a difficult spot, and he surpasses all of our expectations. His nurses and NNPs call him a “wild man” because he is so active in his isolette and had to get his hands on everything he shouldn’t. He is a fighter. He is resilient. He is a part of me.

I can’t wait to watch Garrin as he grows to see what traits, besides that blonde hair, he gets from my husband. Those of you who know him know that he has the softest of hearts and that he is patient and supportive. I can’t imagine how hard the last three weeks have been on him. He has probably gotten to see Garrrin for a total of 30 minutes or so in the last two weeks as he has been playing the role of Mr. Mom in addition to his fatherly responsibilities. I cannot imagine what that distance feels like as I have only left the hospital very briefly on 4 occasions in the last 23 days. He has been instrumental in making it possible for me to be here for Garrin around the clock.

Also crucial to our ability to continue to uphold our responsibilities and be here for Garrin are our families. My mom and dad have been at my house every week to help care for my three kids, pick up and drop them off at school, clean our house for showings, manage our two dogs, and more. My sister, has come up to the hospital every other day, in addition to taking off work for Garrin’s arrival into the world and the scariest of days, to be by my side. She even got me out of the hospital and into a Target last night, helping me to feel like a part of the real world again.

This experience has reiterated many important lessons for me that sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Today, I am reflecting on the importance of asking for help when you need it. Being a very independent person, asking for help is something I regularly tried to avoid. I always wanted to figure things out myself rather than be a burden on others. From this situation, I have been reminded that it is okay to ask for help and even more okay to accept it when it is offered to you. No matter what you are going through, “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” ~Ziad K. Abdelnour

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