Elyse was born at 24 weeks, weighing only 1 lb 10 oz. When I arrived at the hospital that day I had no idea I was about to deliver my baby. Elyse was conceived by IVF and the pregnancy had been difficult. When the NICU staff arrived to transport her to Portland, they were so caring and understanding of how this felt for my husband and me. They took time to explain things and were honest about how fragile our baby truly was.
Everyday in the NICU is hard, even the good days. It’s high and lows, and all of these amazing milestones all wrapped into one. The team that cared for Elyse was always willing to explain the things I didn’t understand. I’m grateful for everything they did for my daughter. Elyse needed a lot of care while there and they made me feel comfortable, knowing I could get some rest or spend a few hours away and that she would be in the best hands.
As time went by, I began to feel more like a mother. At first I was nervous to hold her or touch her. As I became more comfortable, and she grew, I learned to do a lot of the care and diaper changes myself, even taking her out of the isolate for kangaroo care. Even in a situation where I felt I had no control over what was happening with my baby, I slowly learned how things worked and how to help with the things I could and be as involved in her care as I could.
After 95 days we were able to bring our baby home. I was happy, sad, and scared all at the same time. We had made it, my baby had fought against the odds and won, thanks to every single NICU staff who had cared for her so wonderfully. I was scared knowing I would no longer have the same support at home. They reassured our family that she was ready and we would be ok.
I now have a healthy, strong, spirited two-year-old who I look at everyday and realize how lucky I am. She has overcome so much in her short life, but her determination shows in everything she does. She loves her animals, playing with her baby dolls, and playing outside. She brings inspiration and joy to her family everyday.
Story written by Elyse’s mom, Kristen.