Happy Birthday Sweet Kayleigh :)
"Can you believe it's been five years? I remember the day you were born more than any other day in my entire life. The images of the hospital room and all the nurses are still fresh in my head. Not to mention I can practically still feel how nervous Mommy and I were as we impatiently waited for the doctor to bring your precious soul in to this world.
Wow…5 years. Time has certainly flown by and all I can think of is what you’d be doing today if you were still with us. I remember just the other day looking at a photo of when I was five. It was my very first baseball photo when I played t-ball. I was posing with that oversized baseball bat, wearing my little Yankees jersey and cheesing away at the camera. I had many baby photos, but this one is by far my favorite and I it framed on the wall in my home. I like to think you would be taking your first softball photo this year, but you would probably have to you wait a couple more years until you were the size of a normal 5 year old.
Ofcourse I have always thought about baseball over school, but it didn’t dawn on me until I read your Mommy’s letter to you this morning that you would be starting kindergarten this year. As soon as I read that, my heart sank and all I could think of was the post I wrote for you the night Heaven opened its doors. I spoke of all the milestones we would miss in your lifetime as you grew up and one of the main milestones was walking and holding your hand as you went to school for the very first time.
Kayleigh…this year has been amazing in so many ways, but mainly because I felt your presence like never before that one night on the plane. After reading that book and closing my eyes to pray about, I have never in my life felt such a strong grasp of my soul. I like to think you were jumping up, wrapping your arms around my neck and squeezing with all of your might to tell me that you love and miss me…and I know you clearly put that thought in my head at that very same moment. You asked me to finish what I started and it surely got my attention. Kayleigh. I apologize so much for ever stopping, but I have been working non stop to continue doing what I promised to do for you. I have actually enjoyed the times working on it because I truly feel we are spending time working on it together. I love you so much sweetheart and you are more than welcome to come give me a hug anytime you want to." :)
I am excited to share with everyone a hint of the present that I am currently working on with Kayleigh. I started this a long time ago and unfortunately put it away for a couple years, but now I am back on track as of two months ago and it is almost finished. Since this is Kayleigh’s birthday, we would like to share with you part of a chapter of, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Kayleigh’s Story.” I did not want to spoil one of the best chapters in the book, so I didn't include the events in the delivery room but here is the chapter just after when we go see Kayleigh for the very first time. Even though it hasn't fully gone through editing, I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to sharing the rest very soon.
Wishing you all the very best and thank you so much for your birthday wishes today!
***Oh...and if anyone speaks fluent html and can help me with a new blog design, please email me at AdamFreemanPT@yahoo.com***
***Oh...and if anyone speaks fluent html and can help me with a new blog design, please email me at AdamFreemanPT@yahoo.com***
Welcome to the NICU
My Mom and I walk hand in hand down the long corridor to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Sadly, Aimee is still in need of recovering and is heartbroken they won’t let her make the first visit. However, she is adamant about me going to visit Kayleigh so I can bring back some video footage for her to see. As we arrive to the blue and yellow doors of the NICU, we are greeted by a security speaker with a little video camera on it. Since we don’t have a doctor escorting us this time, we have to be cleared by security first and whoever is watching us from the other side of that camera is certainly following protocol as if we were entering the Pentagon. In all seriousness, I am actually very relieved they have tight security because that means Kayleigh is safe in there.
I press the call button and a voice answers, “How can I help you?” I then nervously introduced myself, “I’m Adam Freeman, here to see Kayleigh Anne Freeman…umm…and this is my Mom.” The longest ten seconds passes until….Bzzzzzz!!!! The doors unlock and swing open automatically. Waiting on the other side of the door is a nurse with a pleasant smile on her face. She wastes no time briefing us the rules of the NICU. “First and foremost, you have to wash up” the nurse ordered. She points over to the very small wash station to the right just passed the entry way. It sure is a tight fit with two adults, washing at two sinks in what seems to be a two by two size room.
The nurse then shares the first rule of washing that will forever be imbedded in my mind. She explains, “Now this rule is very important because we do not want to spread any outside germs to the babies, so you have to sing the alphabet song twice through in your heads while scrubbing both the front and back of your hands. Oh…and don’t forget to scrub between your fingers too” I chuckled in Mom’s direction about that last part, “I think I’ve heard that one before.” After washing my hands cleaner than they have ever been in my life, I begin to put on this yellow plastic gown that is very stuffy. Forget the sweat that is already accumulating because I’m nervous, now I'm roasting.
As soon as the safety preparations were done, the nurse directs us down the hallway leading to Kayleigh’s room. I immediately point out to my mom the wall photos with the success stories of the preemies that have beaten the odds here. As I remind Mom of the neonatologist who made the comment, “You have to get here first,” it doesn’t take her long to pick out a space large enough on the wall, plaster her body up against it and say, “This is Kayleigh’s spot!” With shining a smile from ear to ear, no doubt did I agree with that comment.
All the NICU doors are automatic to prevent us from touching anything along the way. It's RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season and it is very dangerous for infants, so we have to be extra careful about spreading germs. As soon as we cross over the threshold into the South Unit, it was as if we crossed in to another world. It is darker than in the hallway and there are isolettes in every direction with their monitors all chiming a similar tune. I immediately could tell the chime was a good sound because the monitors dinging a higher, somewhat annoying pitch have nurses working diligently around the isolette. There are a few nurses on duty, some attending the babies and a couple at a desk doing paperwork. They all give a gentle smile as we walk by, probably because it is obvious we are beyond nervous, looking like two brand new students in a kindergarten class.
My heart starts to pound heavier as we pass a few of the isolettes and I can see the babies inside some of them. I leaned in respectfully to try and catch a peek of how big some of them are, yet I am curious if any of them are close to Kayleigh's size. I guess I was trying to prepare myself for what I was about to see, but nothing could ever prepare me. Nothing at all!
Throughout my whole life, I have dreamt about the day I would have a child of my own and twenty-eight weeks ago I remember sitting in that hot tub in Orlando staring at the stars, dreaming about the day I get to hold that child for the very first time. I knew that in a brief moment, those dreams are about to come true and I am going to finally come face to face with my beautiful daughter. The anxiety starts to kick into overdrive and I reach my hand out for my Mom’s. As it never fails, she’s already waiting with an open hand and she squeezes it tight. I can instantly feel her energy state and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. We are both on the verge of tears as the nerves in our bodies tie the remaining section of our stomachs into a knot.
The nurse turns toward us with a smile and motions her finger towards an isolette in the corner. I try to smile back but the muscles in my cheeks must be in shock like the rest of my body. With baby steps of my own, I feel as if I am walking in slow motion while all the dings and chimes begin to fade away. I find myself standing at Kayleigh’s bedside peering down on her through the clear plastic shell of her isolette.
The very moment I lay eyes on her precious little soul, my nerves disappear in an instant and the muscles in my cheeks ever so slightly tingle with feeling as a smile begins to dawn across my face. I am a firm believer that experiences like this are a glimpse in to what is in store for us when we experience Heaven for the first time. At one moment I felt scared, nervous and my body was numb to the point that I couldn’t physically or mentally have the strength to change my emotions. Then out of nowhere, love bursts in to my heart like never before and quickly depletes every negative feeling with absolute ease. In less than a split second, I start to understand the depth of a parent’s heart as the planted seed of unconditional love is sprouting and beginning to grow inside me.
I hear Mom let out a deep breath and she lays her head against my shoulder, tearfully speaking the words, “Oh baby, she is so tiny.” I wrap one arm around her tightly and respond with a gentle squeeze. My mind is daydreaming about everything we had been through in the past couple of months and all the miracles it took for Kayleigh to be even alive right now. I just stare at her while repeating in my head, “She is an Amazing…just one incredibly amazing miracle!”
Kayleigh measures just over ten inches long and weighs 1 pound and only 1 ounce. She’s smaller than a bottle of water and weighs even less than if the bottle was full. She’s so small, I could easily fit my wedding band around her arm and it would still be way too big. She’s sleeping peacefully on this tiny make shift bed out of what looks like a hand towel. She is wrapped up in a gauze pad in place of a diaper and has wires attaching to every extremity of her body. Her skin is so soft, yet very fragile. I can see little blonde peach fuzz ever so slightly around her head and on her body. Her fingers and toes are the cutest things I have ever seen in my life. It is just unfathomable to see a perfectly developed hand that is merely the size of my fingernail.
Every now and then, Kayleigh will make small movements, but you can see her little chest rising and falling quickly as her little nickel sized lungs are huffing and puffing away. I glance up at the monitor and to find quick comfort in seeing her heart beat pitter-patting away just as I heard it for that very first time. Another smile begins to shine of my face and I take a deep breath as I close my eyes to thank God for this amazing blessing. As I stand with my eyes closed, I can feel my heart’s cadence drumming at the same tempo as Kayleigh’s. I clear my head of the chiming machines and start to pray.
“God, Thank you! Thank you for being here every step of the way, holding our hands and guiding us to this incredibly amazing day. You are an awesome God and I know your love is never ending. I give you every ounce of glory for blessing us with Kayleigh. She came in to this world like crashing thunder and I pray that this little peanut will continue to show the world how amazing you are. Continue to give her the strength to fight this battle and to overcome every obstacle placed in her way. I know that Kayleigh has a purpose in this world and so far she has shown so many people that with faith, hope and love, anything is possible. I pray you continue to give her life so she can continue sharing your love. I love you God with every ounce of my soul and I pray these things in your precious name”
The nurse began to point out what exactly all the wires are for as they all serve a purpose specifically designed to measure her vital signs. “If something isn’t right, you will know it because the alarm with the annoying ding will sound off” explained the nurse. She then quickly pointed out, “However, don’t be too alarmed because most of the time it will either be a drop in her body temperature or her oxygen saturation that will cause the alarm to go off.” In other words, she didn’t want us to freak out every time the alarm goes off.
My mind started to wonder as the nurse was explaining the purpose of all the wires, tubes and gadgets, “How in the world did they figure all this technology out?” Five months ago, I sadly had no clue that the NICU even existed and definitely had no idea what a preemie was. The only thing I remember was a close friend in Junior High telling me he was born a couple months early and that’s why he still sucks his fingers after 13 years. Other than knowing anatomy and physiology, I was clueless as all of this medical mumbo jumbo was a foreign language to me. To top off my lack of confidence, I nearly failed my foreign language classes. I quickly thought about Aimee and whether or not she would know anything about this stuff, but I doubt it because she had two perfectly normal delivery experiences with Brandon and Allyson.
As the rambling continued in my head, I realize I have a very important choice to make. I can sit back, go with the flow and trust these doctors will be different than some of the less positive ones we’ve had before and hope they are making the best decision for my daughter. Or…I can turn in to Super Dad and put every ounce of energy in to educating myself on every aspect of Kayleigh’s care so I have the confidence in helping make the best decisions for our daughter’s life. The latter of the two is a no brainer and I immediately put my game face on and dive right in.