I sent the first of many emails updating family and friends about our situation at 2:43am on January 30th, one hour and nineteen minutes before London was born. It reads:
Hey Dear Friends,
We‘ve spent the night at the hospital because our little girl is coming early, really early. Kate felt some pain last night around 10 and we thought it necessitated a trip to the hospital. We are very thankful we came here because Kate’s water broke about an hour after we arrived. Kate is stable and the baby is doing okay for now, but Kate won’t be leaving the hospital until the baby is born. We don’t know exactly when that will be. It could be a day, weeks, or over a month.
We all need your prayers, happy thoughts, and whatever positive vibes you can send our way.
Of course I had to send out another email very soon after that:
Update. The doctors needed to go forward with a c-section. Kate is doing great in recovery. Our daughter, London Grace Perica is also doing well. She was born at 4:02 this morning, 2 lbs 6 oz, 14.75 inches long. She’s stable. Very crucial period right now and I am so thankful for all your prayers and support.
The Perica Family
From that point on, email was the way to keep everyone in the loop regarding the many ups and downs of London’s NICU stay, but especially during those fragile first weeks. We received so many responses from these two small emails that it has taken me hours to scroll through them and the brief exchanges I had with some of you who asked specific questions about London’s health and how exactly you could support us through this time. The email conversations with some of you never stopped for the entire time we were in the NICU. Sitting down to write weekly updates about London’s progress or sometimes lack of progress was therapeutic for me. Writing the emails allowed me to calm down some after an especially frustrating or scary day. I wrote them next to London’s side, or during dinner at home, and sometimes they were the very last thing I did at night, tapping out emails on my iPhone in the dark with Kate sleeping beside me. It was a form of meditation. It is something that I would recommend to parents in a similar situation. Whether you are just emailing your parents or a huge group of friends, sending updates may trick you into thinking you are spreading the burden around. It may have had that effect on me.
Inevitably, I grew tired of sending out email updates about London in the NICU because all three of us just wanted the hell out. Writing the last update on May 22, three days after London came home was the best email I have ever sent. I have shared it below. Thank you for responding to emails throughout London’s stay and for reading further on this blog about her time in the NICU and raising her there and at home.
May 22, 2014, 11:34pm
On Monday, after 109 days in the NICU, Kate and I walked out of the hospital with London. We were helped out to our car by one of our primary nurses, Megan, who was there the morning London was born and admitted to the NICU. By Monday, we had shed enough tears with Megan (and London’s 3 other primary nurses) throughout London’s NICU stay that there were only smiles on our faces as we loaded London into the car, hugged Megan goodbye, and drove home very carefully.
London has come home with an NG tube since she was not taking 100% of her milk through bottles. Kate and I both placed NG tubes in London before she was discharged. London has the tendency to yank them out so we need to know how to insert a new one. When necessary, we use a pump to give her the rest of her milk. She is on oxygen, as are most preemies in Colorado when they come home. At this point, it’s also necessary to hook her up to a monitor at night. Baby came home from the hospital with a lot of hardware, but we’ve got it all figured out.
London had a follow-up head ultrasound before discharge. We received the results on Monday before we left. The bleed in her brain has been completely reabsorbed. However, her ventricles are still enlarged. At this stage the doctors would like to see them a bit smaller, but they aren’t concerned enough at this point to do anything clinically. They will monitor her closely in follow-up appointments. At this point, we wait it out a little bit and hope the ventricles decrease in size. This was not 100% positive news, so it was a little unsettling to receive it the day we left, but it does not really change London’s outlook at this point. Other news we received before London was discharged…She had one more eye exam before going home. Her ROP continues to improve.
Though we are sure to face quite a few more challenges with London’s health and development, we are of the mindset that the biggest and scariest obstacle, the NICU stay, is behind us. Thus, I am finally ending this long email chain. Thank you so much for all the meaningful and loving replies and for your interest in London’s progress while she was in the NICU. Thank you for the prayers. It was always humbling to know how many people were lifting us up. I could say thank you for so many more things, but it would be a long, boring list, which would fall short of expressing our gratitude for you and the profound joy that has come to us in our little girl and finally getting her home.
bryce, kate, & london grace