Two years ago the 26th was Thanksgiving Day. I remember it distinctly because I was almost seven months pregnant and we had driven from Norfolk, VA to Maine for Thanksgiving. After consulting with my doctor we decided it was fine to travel since, to date, my pregnancy had been uneventful. I had spent the day before Thanksgiving baking pies for the big day. I didn't feel well that day but I figured it was because I had been traveling and I was pregnant. I mean, what pregnant woman ever feels well when she is bloated and cranky all the time?
As I went to bed the night of the 25th I suspected something really wasn't right. After a flurry of phone calls back to my doctor in Virginia, Glenn piled me into the car and drove at break neck speed the 1 1/2 hours to the hospital in Portland. Glenn told me that my doctor was saying it was only a precaution (I was to later find out that she in fact told him that it was critical that we get there). I grew up driving the route from my mom's house to Portland but I never remember it taking such a long time. I kid you not when I say it was a dark and foggy night.
|Sidney at one week|
Three hours later we had a healthy, albeit tiny son who weighed in at 2 lbs 12 oz (or 1.25 kilograms). We found ourselves as the newest members of a club no one wants membership in- that belonging to the parents of premature babies. As someone who researches, plans, then executes the most minute event, I was in over my head with the task before me. We were blessed with the good fortune of being at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center. Little did we know but this hospital has one of the best NICUs in the country. The nurses and doctors helped us through the first few hours, days, then weeks as we sat vigil at Sidney's bedside. They patiently explained each procedure and became an integral part of our lives over the next four weeks.
Thanks to modern technology- i.e. Facebook, friends from around the globe offered their encouragement and support. Within hours of Sidney's birth- as Glenn and I sat in a dumbfounded stupor in my hospital room, we received phone calls from my sister in Switzerland and our dear friends Chris and Catherine. Although they were in Japan, they had already heard the news and were offering their support. Our USS Theodore Roosevelt "family" back in Norfolk began working the phones to make sure we had the support we needed. Glenn's leave was immediately extended thus allowing him to spend additional time in the hospital with his new family of three. My friend Victoria, a.k.a. as the Tricare guru, gave me a crash course in advocacy and making the cumbersome military health care system work for us instead of against us. Back in Norfolk our friends Eric and Gail supervised contractors who were called in at the last minute to speed up the on-going renovations in our home.
After a week Glenn returned to Norfolk and my friends Diane and Lexi put the TR wives to work making sure he was fed in my absence. My brother and sister-in-law, along with my parents, made regular treks to the hospital to make sure I wasn't alone. My in-laws flew up from Maryland and friends who couldn't be with me checked in on a daily basis offering me the love and support I needed to get through those difficult first weeks.
Sidney continued to surpass the doctors' expectations and within a month, and only a few days shy of Christmas, we learned that Sidney was medically stable and could be transferred to a hospital closer to home. Glenn's CO made sure we would all be together in Virginia by Christmas and on Christmas Eve Sidney was medi-flighted to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center.
We went through our share of ups and downs over the next seven weeks but found our savior in a wonderful nurse named Rebecca who became Sidney's fiercest advocate. Our TR family came through once again with hot meals and manual labor to make sure our house was ready for Sidney's homecoming after 11 weeks in two different NICUs in two different states. Throughout it all Sidney defied expectations and proved to be a little trooper.
|The birthday boy with his new ride|
Today Sidney is a strong willed little boy who has both the best and worst traits of both of his parents. Today we celebrate Sidney's second birthday with birthday French toast, qofta (Albanian hotdogs), gifts, and a low key trip to Blur (the Albanian version of Chuckee Cheese). I wish my dear little boy the happiest of birthdays. But today, I also extend an enormous thank you to everyone who has provided us with love, support, and guidance over the past two years. We wouldn't be here without you and for that, I invite all of you to share in today's celebration.