Monday, March 21, 2011

138 days

138 days, 2 and a half hours.

3266.5 hours

195990 minutes

That's the amount of time that Caroline Alice Vogel spent in the Mercy NICU.

Today at 2:45 p.m. she checked out. Her only scheduled return is for a followup checkup and to visit the wonderful doctors, nurses, and staff.

The Vogel twins are home.

A hug from Mom as she checks out her new surroundings.

Though our long journey is just beginning, Melissa and I would like to take a moment at this milestone to extend our deepest thanks to everyone who has helped us reach this point.

To our doctors, nurses, staff and support services from Mercy:

You are amazing.  While I would never in a million years want anyone to need the use of an NICU- if they do need you, I know how wonderful you are and I don't worry for their children.   Your loving care, constant comfort, and unheralded dedication to the children and families in your unit is a treasure that I am honored to have experienced for the last 136 days.  My children are healthy and happy and home because of you and your efforts.  Thank you.

To our employers:

It's hard to describe to our friends and families how much you've meant to us.  Your support, flexibility, and understanding have allowed our difficult journey to be as easy as possible.  It's almost incomprehensible how we would have made it this far without you.  We are truly lucky to have you in our lives.  Thank you

To our families:

What can we say that we haven't told you in person already.  Thank you.  Thanks for the meals, the opportunities to catch a night's sleep, the love, support, advice and flexibility.  Thanks for it all.  You made us who we are and you continue to help us as we grow into parents.  We'll be lucky to be a fraction as good as you are.

To our friends:

Thank you for the wonderful notes, gifts, and loving support throughout this process.  Thanks for the offers for a "normal" night out.  Thanks for the phone calls and understanding when we have to go because a baby is mid-meltdown.  Thanks for your patience...  for waiting to meet our gems until they can be exposed to you without worrying about a bad cold or infection being passed on.  Thanks for reading the blog and commenting on how cute our kids are... it doesn't get old.  Thanks for being great friends.  We hope to have the chance to be great friends back to you.

Blessed- revisited

When we started in the NICU I posted my feelings about being blessed.

That sentiment has not changed.

This milestone, which seemed so far far away in early November could not have come to being without all your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes.  Whatever your religion, we appreciate all you've done for us.  It's made a difference.

In 136 days - Midweek of the first week of August - Caroline will finally pass the number of days she spent in the hospital with the days she's spent at home.  It will be less of a milestone for us.  Likely, it will pass with little more than a mention.  By then we'll have our routine, have begun our adventures outside the home, and be focused on our big milestone on the 5th of November.

By then, we'll still have the memories of the NICU.  Faded will be the exact distinctions between the alarm bells, the way you could tell which day it is by the people working the front desk or answering the phone to patch us through to our nurse, or the schedule of which doctor will be tending to high-acuity babies after the weekend.

Intricacies blurred, our feelings will remain - we came in hoping to leave and left wishing we could stay.  Scared and nervous as we were for our barely 4 pounds of children in the NICU when we left them that first night.  We slept under the blanket of the knowledge that they were getting the very best care from the very best people.

As we head off beyond this milestone, we sleep again tonight under the blanket of the knowledge that our kids have been given the best chance heading out into this world and that there are a whole bunch of other "very best people" out here pulling for us and supporting us.

So yes, we continue to be blessed.

Our very best to each and every one of you and your families,

Mike, Melissa, Caroline and Logan Vogel

Getting a prep-talk from Mom

Moving into our carseat for the maiden voyage

A Paci is a must for the trip... 

Mom and Dad fighting over who gets to push her out of the NICU

Mom won. And our escort Nurse Sarah laughed at Mike.

Past the Nurses' Station

Our Child-Life specialist cheered us on

Loaded into the car.  Caroline's taking it all in.  Logan's been there-done that... nap time.

Walking into the house on a nice Iowa Spring Day.