I have had the privilege of capturing many life moments for the Coe Family. From their wedding day, to when Alicia Addy’s Mom first told her husband Scott in a surprise staged photo reveal they where expecting their first child together. After years of infertility, prayers and hope they learned they where expecting a sweet baby girl. Alicia unexpectedly went into labor early and Addy had a brief stay in the NICU. As any Mom can imagine going home while your baby has to stay in the NICU is one of the most difficult things one has to endure. Alicia is a very strong Mamma bear and has shred some personal thoughts including how she personally got through her sweet baby girl being premature and in the NICU.
I recently had a friend say to me that she couldn’t imagine how it must feel to be a NICU mom. For any parent who has not gone through it you’re right you can’t begin to imagine.
When I discovered I was finally pregnant, I was so full of hope, full of dreams, full of wishes for the little one growing inside me. I was so excited to be expecting another little one as i have been in love with this child for years, before she even existed. I imagined feeling my little one kicking and squirming in my belly and i had the dreams of the day they are born. They are born crying and are handed to me for them and me to bond. I get to look at and hold my little baby right away and 2 days later get discharged and bring my beautiful healthy baby home and begin our life. But my body failed. It failed me. It failed my baby. It failed my husband.
Having given birth to a healthy full term baby 14+ years ago the thought of not having a happy, healthy, full-term baby never even crossed my mind. We prayed and prated for this baby so there was no way anything could possibly go wrong.But here I was, 34 weeks along, laying in a hospital bed about to give birth. When I say God prevailed, I truly mean it.
The average weight of a baby born during the 34th week is 4.73 pounds. They sent in an ultrasound tech to measure my little bean. She had the monitor turned the entire time and while Scott was trying to see what she was doing let’s be honest he had no idea what he was looking for. It was the longest 7 minutes of my life, also because the contractions by this time were killer. The tech didn’t say a word to me heck she didn’t even look me in the eyes. Just did her job and out she went. I was terrified. I just kept thinking this is a dream wake up.
When Adalynn was born, she actually weighed over 5 pounds. Don’t get me wrong, she was still incredibly tiny. Addy would have to fight; she would have to grow, she would have to learn and adapt. Things she shouldn’t have to do because she should have still been safe inside my body. I wasn’t able to protect her but God was there and He watched over her.
The hopes, dreams, and wishes I first had for my growing baby had now completely changed. I hoped for a chance to hold my tiny baby girl, I dreamed about every ounce she needed to gain, I wished for good feeds, good sugar levels, good blood work, good temperature, good oxygen levels.I wished for good.
I was discharged from the hospital and had only been able to hold my own baby once. The baby I grew inside me, that I loved and adored, the little girl that my body failed to keep safe. The tears I cried on the car ride home, I was heartbroken so I wept. Not only was I leaving my child behind but my child had hardly felt my embrace. That first night was the first of many nights that I cried myself home with the hospital in my rear view mirror.
I was discharged empty handed, i came home to an empty crib. It was heart breaking to walk into her room and not have her there.
When I would get home every night after a long day at the hospital, I would wipe the tears from my eyes. While sitting in my car in the garage, I questioned myself, I questioned my faith, I questioned God. Why did He do this to me? And more importantly why would He do this to Adalynn?
Every day Addy grew stronger; every day she showed improvement; and every day she showed me that she had this. I watched her hooked up to ventilators and monitors until she could breath on her own.I watched them “feed” my baby through a tiny orange tube while my body produced the milk and longed for that latch from her. Each successful day she had I could feel a bit of peace wash over me and even if it only lasted a few moments I knew it was God telling me it was going to be okay.
And that’s the thing, He always has a plan. “For I know the plans I have for you..” But his plan and your plan aren’t always the same. From infertility for 5 years to now a “NICU mom” It has taken me a long time to just stop questioning why and accept this journey God has put me on. And to be honest, sometimes I struggle. It’s hard to not reflect on what could have been, to not think about how life would be different, to wonder what I did wrong, to imagine life with out all these hurdles, to not doubt the path God has chosen for me.
God has shown me not only how strong I am but how strong my baby is. Preemies are the strongest, toughest little humans on this planet with the most bad ass moms. I am strong. I am resilient. I am- Alicia Coe