Bekah spent 10 weeks in Akron Children’s Hospital’s NICU. Since her discharge in January, we have returned a few times to visit friends who were still there — still waiting for that chance to take a little person home for the first time, even if it was weeks, or months, later than planned.
A few weeks ago we returned after an appointment at the NICU Follow-up clinic. We expected to see a few familiar faces, to say thank you for everything everyone did for Bekah and for us, and to go home.
When we walked through the doors of Akron Children’s Heart Center I suddenly remembered the first time we were there. My mind flashed back to the day we had our pre-surgery consultation and how unbelievably nervous I was. Dr. Smith, Greg, Charlene and everyone else at the Heart Center did such an incredible job of easing our fears.
It’s hard to explain just how much we appreciate the time everyone spent answering our questions (sometimes over and over) about open heart surgery.
In a lot of ways, the surgery itself often fades into the background, replaced by the tremendous care for Bekah that surrounded the surgery. As we left the Heart Center, having visited with Charlene and dropped off our basket of pretzels, I was once again filled with gratitude for the time we spent there.
As we went on to our next stop, the PICU, we crossed the bridge into the main hospital. How many times, I thought to myself, did we cross this same bridge on our way to see Bekah, without even taking the time to look around?
I remember watching from the windows night after night as Chris left to make the 45-minute drive home. Each time he passed under the bridge I waved and made my way back to Bekah’s bedside (well, isolette-side, or eventually crib side). Other times the two of us crossed from the hospital to the car to once again grab a bag or two of clothes and make our way to the Ronald McDonald House, our home for the 64 days Bekah was in the hospital.
People talk of taking walks down memory lane, and I guess this one was about as literal as it gets. We entered the PICU only to walk directly into one of the nurses who covered a Christmas shift in the NICU. We absolutely LOVED having her, and we were excited to see her in the PICU when we returned for Bekah’s heart surgery.
We were excited again to see her (all of her sweet pregnant self) this time too. The funny thing is, we really only had her as a nurse once. And yet, not only did we remember her (actually we think of her often), she remembered us and even remembered who some of Bekah’s other PICU nurses were.
While in the PICU we saw the first nurse Bekah had after heart surgery. Nurse Lorie not only tended to Bekah’s every need, but she quietly and carefully took care of us too.
Having spent time in the NICU, we were familiar with most of the tubes, wires and monitors, but there were a few things (like the yellow numbers on the monitor – the pressure in Bekah’s veins) that she graciously explained. Even better, when she learned that I was still using the pumping rooms in the Reinberger Family Center, she quickly dug out some curtains and hung them from the small room attached to Bekah’s so that I would have a place to use near the Bekster instead of taking what always seemed to end up as an hour-long trip two floors down.
We didn’t hang around long enough to see any of the doctors Bekah had, but we have fond memories of each of them (and lots of great memories of some of them). So, again with thankful hearts, we dropped off a basket of pretzels, and smiled as we left the PICU, still carrying a baby with no wires, and no plans for a return (well, except to say hello again…we LOVE it there!)
As we headed for the elevators to make our way to the NICU with misty eyes and thankful hearts, my mind once again swam with thoughts of how unbelievably grateful I am for the doctors, nurses and all of the support teams at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Read the rest of Sarah and Rebekah’s story through her blog, Following Your Heart.