This has been difficult, but in the same breath it's been an experience that has changed me. Russ and I have made connections, memories, and formed routines here. There are many aspects I (we)will miss...
*Joanne, the quietly confident night nurse. We were blessed to be here while Joanne worked her magic for part of the year. Now she has returned home to Ghana with her husband and her non-profit (African Mothers Health Initiative) where they need her the most. She is a midwife, nurse, advocate, and a beautiful spirit. Russ and I are looking forward to seeing her and meeting her husband in June!
*Dr. Akin, my OB/GYN who walks in with his Starbucks each morning with a smile. He shoots me straight and calms my fears. Magical qualities in a doctor. Not to mention his smart ass sense of humor. That's what I love most about him. I've enjoyed his morning visits...and if he can't make those, he may pop in for a surprise later in the afternoon or evening. I'm thankful for this "opportunity" to get to know him as a person, not just a doctor. And may God bless his wife!
*Dr. DiStefano, my Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist that was given to me on October 7. She couldn't have been more perfect for us. She's a very intelligent woman, always had answers for all of our questions, and explained what "that" was each time we had a sonogram. She makes time for her patients when they need her and I appreciate that even more knowing that she has 4 children at home. I looked forward to Thursdays, our sonogram days, when she walks in with a warm smile. We were lucky to have her.
*Stephy, our happy, thorough day nurse. Stephy was the first one to realize Russ wasn't a morning person and she's afraid of him in the morning. She's nicknamed him "Starshine!" Stephy is softhearted and great at what she does. She chose the right profession for herself. Stephy has taught me so much about what is going on with me, baby, etc. I know how to read a strip, what it should and shouldn't look like. I appreciate the fact that before she turns me off the machine she says, "Baby looks great!" and on occasion, "What's going on here?" and she investigates. She's given me a crash coarse in nursing--I'm thankful for the knowledge, but teaching is definitely for me!
*Melinda, knitting teacher. And more importantly nurse. Melinda has also taught me about what's going on with me, my body, and my baby. She was the first to fill my head with stories of pPROM and NICU success that I desperately wanted to hear. She starts a pot of decaf for me when she's here and I'm so grateful. Melinda cried with me when I needed to. She's teaching me how to knit...and won't let me leave until I finish this scarf. I'm so glad!
*Lily, smiling, happy nurse. She's always wanted to work with mothers and babies because of her father. She's good at what she does and wants the bests for her patients. She likes to take care of us. She's also worked on teaching me to knit. She's a crafty one and made me fancy Week/Day cards out of pretty paper for my information board. I appreciate her thoughtfulness!
*Annabelle, my night nurse who loves a schedule. Annabelle is from the Phillipines and has told me stories about her children and her home. I appreciate her sharing with me. She comes in and makes a plan and follows through. When you make her laugh, she covers her mouth with her soft giggle with her hand and I love it! I feel successful when I've made her laugh. When Annabelle and Riley met, the first thing he said to her was, "Why are you little?" Riley stood up next to her and reached her armpit. He was fascinated.
*Virginia, the wonderful woman who cleaned my room almost every day. The days she didn't clean it, I could tell. I enjoyed her coming in, taking the extra time to make everything that much better, and getting to know about her and her children along the way. Before she left every day, she would ask if I need anything else, wipe the doorknobs down with sanitizer, and go on her way. She is a wonderful woman (who, by the way earned Employee of the Month this week).
*Cookie (his real name is Gerard), the security guard who Riley took a liking to on his very first hospital visit. He's a man who wears a uniform, drives a large golf cart, and has an incredibly sweet smile. Riley came to visit the first evening I was here and saw Cookie on his way in and the way out. On the way out, him and Russ stopped to visit and Riley didn't want to shake Cookie's hand, he asked Russ if he could give him a hug. That says so much about his presence. He's been up to my room to check on me several times and always has a warm smile and a "God Bless You" when he leaves.
*Brian and Julia, our friends we met traveling this road together. I'm so thankful for you guys and the connection that we have that won't end here. Thanks for the good times, for making this journey one to smile about. I'm so glad we had you guys to share this experience with--and all the gory details. We'll be friends forever, you guys have such a special place in our lives. Looking forward to hanging with you guys (outside of the hospital), Julia and I having a drink or two, sharing some Thai Cuisine, and Braden and Baby Cook hanging out. Love you!
I hope these friends don't take it personally that we want to get out of here so bad. We'll see you for a while while we visit NICU, and will pop in to check on our friends when we can. Thanks for being here, thanks for being you, and thanks for taking care of me, my family, and my friends.