All along the way, my doctors assured me that everything was progressing very well, and I felt great. We chose to deliver at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., because of the Level III NICU and its reputation, but never thought we would need it.
On February 22, 2013, I woke up a little after 11 pm, and I didn’t feel quite right. I woke my husband, Andy, and we decided to go to the emergency room, just to be safe. We expected to be checked out and return home in a few hours. But shortly after arriving at the emergency room, contractions started, my water broke, and we were informed that the babies were going to be born in a matter of hours.
At 7:49 and 7:50 am on Saturday, February 23, 2013, our boys were born at exactly 28 weeks gestation—then quickly whisked away.
Andy and I were taken to a recovery room without knowing if our babies would survive. It was hard to breathe for those hours; it felt like we had been thrown into some kind of awful alternate universe. We hadn’t packed a bag. We didn’t even have a list of names. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
Thanks to the amazing neonatal doctors and nurses at Advocate Good Samaritan, our boys did survive those hours.
“Baby #1,” my darling Benjamin William, was 2 pounds 9 ounces and bruised from head to toe from the birthing process. He looked like a tiny, purple eggplant.
“Baby #2,” my sweet and feisty Jacob Michael, was 1 pound 11 ounces.
For the first few days, we held our breath, prayed and moved through a blur while doctors and nurses explained the first hurdles and steps required to keep our boys alive.
The night before I was released from the hospital, I went to the NICU in the middle of the night. Every nurse in the room seemed to glide over to me, bolstering my reserves, encouraging me to take pictures, speaking words of encouragement and explaining things over again. I looked around the room and realized that we were going to be here for a long time. I didn’t even want to think about an alternative possibility.
There are no sufficient words or superlatives to describe the staff of the Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital NICU. To us, they were angels.
The secretaries greeted us warmly every hour of every day; the custodians smiled and respectfully tip-toed quietly around our incubators while working; the therapists explained and implemented techniques that have saved us long-term therapy needs; the doctors made decisions that saved our boys lives multiple times over; and the nurses…. not a day goes by that I do not think about the nurses and feel grateful for all that they did for us.
Because of the exceptional care, my boys not only survived, but they ate, slept, fought infections, shed wires, cannulas and feeding tubes, grew, smiled, flirted, came home and went on to absolutely thrive.
Ben came home after three-and-a-half months, and Jake just one month after that.
Today, our boys are 3 ½ years old. We are blessed that they have grown into strong, smart and independent children, with virtually zero long-term delays. They are in preschool, they love making each other laugh and they are enjoying being typical, active boys. They have been best buddies since the day they came home, and our house has not been quiet since!
At night, they often ask me to lie down with them for a few extra minutes. When they wrap their little fingers around my hands, I remember their tiny fingers inside those incubators, and I have to swallow the lump in my throat as I embrace the gratitude that washes over me.