On October 5th, Nathan turned a month old. It had been a very rough first month, but Nathan was the most stable he had been in his short little life. He was still on the ventilator, still hooked up to quite a few monitors, and still on a large number of medications, but he had made it a whole month -- and that was something to be excited about!
As each day went by, Nathan continued to make slow, but forward, progress. But up until this point, it had never really crossed either of our minds to ask to hold Nathan. With ECMO and the silo and and everything else, it's sad to say that holding Nathan wasn't even a passing thought.
That all changed on the night of October 10th, exactly 5 weeks since Nathan was born.
From the second or third week after Nathan was born, we had tried the best we could to live as much of a normal life as we could. Thomas tried to work normal shifts (there were still bills to pay) and Bekah would spend as much of the day as she could with Nathan. Then at night we would return home, sleep, and do it all again the next day.
The longer Nathan was in the hospital, the better we came to known the nurses and doctors responsible for Nathan's care, especially his primary care nurses, those nurses who were assigned to Nathan whenever they were on.
On the night of Wednesday, October 5th, Thomas was working late while Bekah was with Nathan at the hospital. That night, one of Nathan's primary care nurses, Ashlee, happened to be assigned to care for Nathan. As Ashlee came on duty, she asked Bekah is she had had the opportunity of holding Nathan yet. Sadly, Bekah reported that she had not.
Then, most unexpectedly, Ashlee asked Bekah if she'd like to. Was she serious? Really? Do you mean it? Of course!
Bekah called Thomas with the good news, which prompted him to immediately leave work and head up to the hospital. Bekah patiently waited for him to arrive before holding Nathan. Since we didn't know how Nathan would react to being held, there was no guarantee that we would both get the opportunity. So it was decided that Bekah would go first and if that went well, then Thomas would also have a chance.
Now, holding Nathan was not an easy task. You couldn't just pick him up and cradle him in your arms. Because he was still on the ventilator, it was considerably trickier than that.
After Bekah had comfortably positioned herself in a rocking chair, Ashlee called for the Respiratory Technician to come and help transfer Nathan to her. The RT held the ventilator tube in place while Ashlee gently picked up Nathan. In tandem, they moved over to Bekah and gently placed Nathan in her arms.
And both Nathan and Bekah loved it! Because of the ventilator tubes, Bekah had to remain quite still. And so she did -- for nearly an hour! -- enjoying the first real mother-son bonding time they had ever had.
But after an hour, Thomas was nearly begging to have a turn. So the process with Ashlee and the RT was repeated with Thomas taking Bekah's place in the rocking chair. He also doted on Nathan for nearly an hour with some much needed father-son time.
And even though we had to sit there nearly motionless while holding Nathan, for each of us the hour with Nathan seemed like no time at all. It was the best hour we'd spent in more than a few weeks.
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