GUEST BLOG – Hailey, mom to SickKids kids Rowan and Nate
Hailey is a real-life hero, and so are her twins, Rowan and Nate. Hailey’s son Nate was featured in the “You Got It” commercial and in this year’s #SickKidsHero website. In honour of our #SickKidsHero campaign, Hailey shares her story of what it’s like to be a NICU mom at SickKids and how her two boys are her heroes.
People used to ask me, “How did you do it?” and I used to say that I really didn’t know.
It wasn’t uncommon for someone to tell me that they wouldn’t be able to do what I did, to go through the ups and downs of having micro preemies, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, too fragile to withstand the touch of another human being, not even their mother.
As new moms, we aren’t ready to have doctors and nurses standing over our hospital beds at any given moment reciting statistics on other 25-weekers who have not been so fortunate.
When my twins came, I didn’t have people bringing me flowers or phone messages from family and friends congratulating me. Instead, I had to explain the situation over and over again because no one understood what was really happening.
Rowan and Nate were born June 15. In July, the boys were transported to SickKids for emergency surgery. Both had bowel issues due to prematurity, heart problems, breathing difficulties, and the list went on.
After being told that my sons may not make it through the night on a number of occasions, I relied on my family and God for support. When we got to SickKids I realized that I was not alone. Throughout the four months of visiting the hospital on a daily basis, sometimes twice, I understood better what it was like for nurses and doctors who helped my children and others like them day in and day out. Some days were happy and others were as dark as night. It must be such a challenge for the nurses and doctors to shut the door behind them after every shift only to know that anything can happen while they are gone.
Preemies are a not-so-rare species anymore. Their tiny bodies are fragile to the touch but strong as a rock. Nate and Rowan’s fight for life was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Their will to live and heal themselves was a true super power from God. They surprised doctors in many ways. As they overcame infections, fought through feeding issues and beat the odds, they made it clear that miracles do happen.
There came a time when tubes disappeared, monitors were turned off and x-rays became a thing of the past. I was finally able to enter the hospital knowing that I would be able to hold them tightly and never let them go. That was a feeling I’ll never forget.
Being a preemie mom, you meet others doing the same thing you are, going through the same trials and tribulations, each day stepping into that hospital room holding your breath and hoping that the night had gone well. You’d see other moms and dads standing around their tiny babies, too sick to hold, and see the despair in their eyes. Some were still there when we were discharged and I’ll never know if they did get to carry their little ones out of that hospital and into the lives they were given. Then there were times when I’d see those smiling dads carrying the car seat onto the unit, more than ready to take their little fighter home, their expression worth a thousand words.
My sons have been home for over a year now and I often reflect on the past. I think about the obstacles we faced, the doctors we spoke to, the questions we asked. As I sit back and watch them grow I am filled with a sense of pride when I watch them take their first step, say their first word and pick up that first Cheerio.
I am grateful for the courageous doctors and nurses who listened to the boys’ heartbeats, took their temperatures, held them when mommy and daddy couldn’t and for having the courage to say those words that every parent fears most.
My sons gave me the ultimate gift of appreciation for life and what it holds. They taught me to be fearless, to stand strong, to fight when everyone else stands down.
Now when people ask me that same question, “How did you do it?” I say it was them who got me through. Rowan and Nate are, and always will be, my heroes.