We've been back to the NICU several times since the day Morgan Kate was discharged. It's important to us to go back and say thanks and to show all of the staff, whom we consider family, just how great Morgan Kate is doing. After all, it's because of each one of them that she is doing so well today.
Each time we've visited I have made the same walk from the parking garage to the NICU doors. I have stood at those tall, double doors and buzzed in. Sometimes wondering if the staff will even remember me. I have walked past the deep, stainless steel sinks where we washed our hands so, so many times. I have peeked into the glass doors that stand between me and the other babies. I have walked down the long hallway, the hallway where I held my breath each morning because I wasn't sure what I would walk into, and I have returned to our old room. And I have been really, really proud of myself because I have done a good job. I haven't cried. I haven't lost it. I don't even know that I have shed a tear while there. Until Sunday. Sunday was different. Sunday was overwhelming, but in such a good way.
Sunday while visiting I watched this little girl walk down that same hallway that Travis and I walked for so many days. She walked with such confidence and such independence. It literally took my breath away. I know I have said this so many times before, but there were many, many nights early on where I wasn't sure if this sight would ever be a reality. And yesterday it was. It was really happening.
As I walked down the hallway behind her I tried my best to hold back the tears and swallow the lump in my throat. As I approached Room 8, Morgan Kate's room for 107 days, it all became too much and I could no longer keep it inside. The tears flowed. As Travis and I looked into that room so many memories came flooding back. So many feelings and fears resurfaced. And at the same time, so much gratitude came from my heart. And I think we both had a feeling of relief.
It was in this place, in this very room, that my family of two became a family of three. It was in this very room that we spent the first 107 days of her life together. It was in this room where I held her for the first time, fed her for the first time and even changed a messy diaper for the first time. It was here that I gave her her first bath. It was here that she received her two month immunizations. It was here that we became parents and learned how to care for our child. It was here that people took such good care of our daughter. It was here that people loved her and cared for her when we weren't able to be there. It was here that people loved and cared for us when the days and moments were just too hard.
As I looked into that room and thought about the past, I also thought about the present. I looked over at Morgan Kate who was sitting with several of the nurses. She was laughing and smiling and putting on quite the show. I thought about how far she has come and how far we have come. I thought about all the things she is doing and all the things she is going to do. And I thought about how much I love her and how much I love the NICU staff. Travis put his arm around me and without saying any words I knew he was feeling the same exact thing. Dr. Ellis, the neonatologist who admitted and discharged Morgan Kate, walked over to the door where we were standing. She gently patted my back and as I turned I saw the tears in her eyes too.
The NICU, Room 8 and especially the staff, will always hold a special place in our hearts. A place filled with so much love and so much gratitude for all they have done and all they do.