Isn’t it funny how something as simple as a Facebook message can create a friendship? One short sentence on Messenger turns into full conversations turns into exchanging phone numbers.
On March 31, 2020 I responded to post on a micro preemie support page I joined after Nellie-Anne was born. A new mama was asking about NICU journals. I just happened to have one and let her know that I would send it to her. I also sent her the book that True Love‘s mom gave to me before they left our NICU.
That new mama was Brittney. She and her husband, Robert, welcomed their sweet Wyatt on March 14, 2020 at 25 weeks and 4 days. He weighed a whopping 1lb 7oz!
Much like Nell, Wyatt ended up being intubated because he was having trouble breathing on his own. He endured sepsis and pneumonia. He also had a small heart murmur that required medication for a little while and he was on steroids for his lungs.
Among blood transfusions, vitamins, diuretics, steroids, caffeine, and breathing treatments Wyatt began experiencing some oxygen issues. Doctors were able to lower his oxygen settings after a while. And what a feat that was! He also beat the pneumonia infection!
There were days where Wyatt would do so well and others where being in the NICU was rough for Brittney and Robert. But if you kept up with Nell’s NICU journey, you know that the NICU roller coaster is very real.
On April 29th Brittney posted an update about Wyatt. Specifically, his lungs. This was Wyatt’s biggest hurdle. He was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). It’s caused by the vent he was on to breath. There is no medication for this. He just needed his lungs to get stronger so he could be taken off the vent. The vent that was keeping him alive was also hurting him.
On May 4th Brittney’s post said, “Please please pray for Wyatt! I’m begging for prayers.” I remember sitting in my car pleading with God to keep Nellie alive. Begging, with everything I had in me, to not take her from me. The second I saw that post I knew something was wrong. I knew she wasn’t okay. Wyatt was battling sepsis and pneumonia for the second time.
That night she sent her family a message saying that at one point while the doctor was bagging Wyatt she looked at Brittney and said, “Mama, I’m running out of options”. I have tears in my eyes just writing this. Wondering whether or not your baby will make it through the night is, in Brittney’s own words, excruciating.
And then just a week later the doctors were taking Wyatt off of his antibiotics, paralytics, and morphine. He was on his lowest vent settings ever and she got to do skin-to-skin for Mother’s Day. And 5 short days later he was extubated. Seeing your sweet babe taken off the vent is the best feeling ever! That same week Wyatt got to start wearing clothes!
Wyatt didn’t have any brain bleeds and his retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) had not progressed. He was able to start breastfeeding on June 7th.
On June 13th Brittney was able to have a virtual baby shower via Facebook Live. I was able to join in for a little while and it was so nice to see a smile on her face.
Wyatt was able to continuously go down on oxygen settings. This is always such a big step for preemies. We are literally watching them learn to breath, suck, swallow, and do so many other things that full term babies just come out knowing how to do.
On day 96 it was getting to be really hard on Brittney and Robert. Ninety-six days. That’s just over 3 months. THREE MONTHS! That’s three months of back and forth to the hospital to ‘visit’ their baby. Three months of ups and downs. Three months of desperate prayers.
Brittney and I talked about the struggles of being a preemie mama. We missed out on baby kicks, 3D ultrasounds, and maternity photos. We missed out on celebrating our babes at a shower where we could show off that sweet pregnant belly. We missed out on their first diaper changes, their first baths, and when their umbilical cords fell off. So many parents don’t realize what getting to do these things means. But we were there for each other in those moments. She was struggling with a very familiar feeling to me. Feeling like a real mama. What she didn’t know, and I didn’t either in my time of struggle, was that she was a real mama. Her experience was just different. But look at this smile he gave his mama.
June 23, 2020 was Wyatt’s due date. And on this day he did one full breastfeeding session without having to have any extra fed through his tube. And he hit 5 lbs!
Wyatt had to have surgery for his hernia, but it was successful and he continued to progress. He was taking almost all feeds from a bottle and his oxygen setting continued to get lowered by his doctors.
And then this. On July 15th, at 6lbs, 1/4 liter of oxygen off the wall, and no MRI abnormalities Wyatt was discharged from the NICU. Brittney and Robert survived 124 days, more than 4 months, without their sweet boy at home.
I cried so many happy tears for them. This is a day they will forever celebrate. This is a day that will forever be one of the best days of their lives.
Brittney and Robert, I can’t tell you how excited I am for you. I know it feels like your life can begin. And I know you’ll do such a great job as Wyatt’s parents.
Wyatt, you are one strong little man. You’re going to so such wonderful things in your life.
My hope is that, by sharing their story, I can shed a little more light on what NICU life is like. I want others to see how strong these mamas are. I wouldn’t wish a NICU stay on anyone. But if you ever find yourself there or if you know someone who is going through these same struggles, please know that there are so many of us mamas out there that get it. We understand. And we are here for you.