Two years ago today was one of the greatest days ever. After 68 days of fear, longing, and worry, our little girl finally left the NICU and came home.
the first time I ever walked around holding my daughter
When you’re in the NICU for as long as we were, you learn that discharge days are arbitrary. We saw plenty of parents get disappointed and frustrated as their child’s discharge date would get delayed for one reason or another. We were told Madeline would come home that week, but we didn’t let our hopes get TOO high. But that morning, our phone rang, and it was the head of the NICU. “Hi Mr. and Mrs. Spohr! Your daughter is ready to come home!”
Magical, wonderful words.
Mike and I raced to the NICU, car seat installed and ready to be occupied. We practically ran into the NICU and I gleefully removed the last sensors that were stuck to her skin. I dressed her in the going home outfit we’d chosen, and then I picked her up and walked around with her – the first time I’d ever been able to do that. She’d always been tethered to a monitor, or a medicine drip, or a an oxygen tube. But she was finally unencumbered. Mike and I walked her through the NICU for a goodbye – her victory tour – and everyone remarked how big she was. She weighed six pounds two ounces, double her birth weight. We thanked and hugged all the people who saved Madeline’s life, and then we left. I remember feeling like we should run, like the doctors and nurses were going to tell us that a mistake had been made and she wasn’t REALLY allowed to leave.
Mike drove so slow on the way home I still can’t believe we made it back before the sun went down.
Those first few days with her home were amazing and scary and fantastic. We stared at her. We couldn’t believe we got to be with her all the time, that we didn’t have to drive to visit her anymore.
Even Rigby stared at her:
the beginning of a (beautiful) relationship
We were so grateful to have our family together.
It was the best of times.
Awwwww. So sweet. Beautiful.
Kandi Ann says:
So Beautiful. Thanks for sharing her with us.
While the page was loading all I saw was Homeward Bound and your picture of you holding a baby..i thought for a second you had gone and had the baby and I missed the announcement…then I realized it was our sweet baby Maddie.
Sweet baby girl.
Thinking of your and Mike!
.-= InDueTime´s last blog ..National De-Lurking Day =-.
Ohmygoodness! Me too! I thought it had been a few days since she posted and I was sure she’d had Binky and kept the news to the immediate family until they were home! Although I’m a bit bummed we’ll have to wait a bit longer to meet Baby “A”, I’m thrilled to be let in on such a beautiful day in their lives (and the fact that Binky may actually have a purple birthstone, gives me chills).:)
Heather – Oddly enough, I thought of Maddie today. It’s a little strange to me sometimes that a child who I’ve never met has impacted the way I interact with my kids in such a significant way. I often think of you and Mike and how much you must hurt, and how you must feel with Binky almost here.. So many strong emotions. I just feel like I should give you a huge hug, and maybe commiserate about the sucky last few months of pregnancy (it’s almost over!). Just know that there are people out there, holding your hand and thinking about you, Mike, Binky and Maddie, for whatever it’s worth.
The memories of bringing home my own two babies who did not have long stays in the NICU (my daughter had a 24-hour stay, but it did not extend her overall hospital stay by much) to be so stirring to me. The moment when they’re out in the world with me, introducing them to their life. Where we get to REALLY be together as a family. Your pictures and your words stirred my own memories and made me feel grateful all over again for my precious two and the moments with each of them. So thank you for that. And thank you over and over again for sharing Madeline with us.
.-= Jessalee´s last blog ..The Dress =-.
Gorgeous Maddie. Gorgeous Heather. I’m thinking of you all.
.-= bemytomato´s last blog ..chick-a-rita. =-.
What a beautiful family. I can still remember the date my husband (who coincidently is also named Mike) and I brought our daughter home from the NICU, it was 11-8-02. I’ll never forget the feeling, it was amazing.
Thinking of you on this day, another day that must be bittersweet and full of so many memories. Lots of hugs for you and Mike.
Such a bitter/sweet day for you today. A wonderful memory to hang on to and soon, a new one when after only a short hospital stay you will bring baby A home. I am beyound excited for that day to come for you both! Thanks for the memory. It’s so strange to see you standing out in the SUNSHINE with no coat, no boots, no hat or winter mittens in January of all months!!!!. WOW….how wonderful that must be!!!
My daughter was born Jan.7th, a day later we brought her home after an ice and snow storm took out 1/2 of our city. Brian drove so slow, not because our brand new baby Sam was in the car, but b/c the road were shear ice.
((Sigh))….our lives…..so different yet so a like at the same time! Thanks for sharing your memories and pictures of beautiful Madeline. I look at her and think how much I have fallen in love with this tiny, perfect little girl, I had never met. What a gift you have given me. Thank you!
Have a good day!
Anne Y says:
Hugs to you and Mike.
.-= Anne Y´s last blog ..Shauna Glenn should TOTALLY write Bios for a living =-.
Lesley O says:
Beautiful as always Heather.
I remember the excitement (and trepidation) of bringing our son home after only 30 days in the NICU and can only image how excited you must have been after 68 days.
Despite being new parents, it was hard to feel like it when as you know, you go home empty handed at the end of every night. It was absolute torture.
So when I walked into the NICU that morning and was suddenly told that he was going home that day, well needless to say we were more than a little excited! Like the day he was born all over again!
We pushed him home in his pram through the park…with HUGE beaming smiles!!
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
Such beautiful, happy photos! May there be many many happy times ahead. Love to you all.
.-= Kate @ UpsideBackwards´s last blog ..The Night Visitor =-.
I am glad you are putting in writing all these memories of Maddie. I feel that in a way it brings her closer to us as readers and it ensures that she will never ever be forgotten. I love the pictures, too. Maddie is beautiful *sigh*
I brought my daughters home after their NICU stays on 12/21/04 & 12/12/07. I remember the exact feeling of euphoria and trepidation you are talking about! I had to fight to have my 2nd daughter released, so I just wanted to grab her and run before they could change their minds!
Good luck! Binky will be here soon!
Another beautiful family picture will soon be made, Heather & Mike. Can hardly wait to see it!!!!!!!!
sweet pics. love that sweet girl!
xo from CT,
.-= amanda´s last blog ..potty training report, twitter-style =-.
Barbara Howard says:
What a wonderful memory! Thanks for sharing.
That memory is beautiful! I hope that you have many many many more memories of Maddie and more that have yet to be made of Binky!
.-= charlane´s last blog ..MMM,,, Pad thai Noodles =-.
Do you notice how many people are using the word ‘beautiful’? And it’s the first word that came to my mind reading that post, Heather. Beautiful words, beautiful smiles. Beautiful baby. A beautiful family. Beautiful memories.
.-= Sarah´s last blog ..Dad =-.
mary c says:
There will be more!!
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
This is, indeed, a wonderful anniversary! Happy “Maddie Comes Home” Anniversary!
.-= Lynn from For Love or Funny´s last blog ..The bane of my existence, part deux =-.
How wonderful that feeling of having her in your arms to take wherever you wanted must have been! I remember the s-l-o-w ride home too. Dads drive as fast as possible *to* the hospital to have the baby but it’s a snail’s pace for the ride home.
What a lovely memory and a lovely anniversary. Thinking of you today!
.-= Deborah´s last blog ..Amy Carson Photography =-.
What a special memory. You are a beautiful family.
It was the best of times, wasn’t it? What a wonderful, powerful memory.
.-= Laurie´s last blog ..Bookworm? =-.
I can remember our bring home day it was amazing. I also remember thinking it was a mistake or that someone would be chasing after us. Beautifully written.
.-= Megan´s last blog ..Jets at Indy?? =-.
Toni Brockliss says:
My little girl was in special care for a week and it was the longest 7 days of my life. I can’t imagine what you went through for 68 days. What you have been through since April.
Understanding. It is one of the hardest parts to deal with when something happens to you and you need support. I can understand special care and that dreadful feeling of giving birth and leaving a hospital empty handed. I can’t understand losing a child, but I can give support.
If you don’t understand just support, listen and hold a hand.
.-= Toni Brockliss´s last blog ..craft days… =-.
Anne DiNapoli says:
Your smile in all those pics says it all.
.-= Anne DiNapoli´s last blog ..What you haven’t seen on Facebook =-.
You can just feel the joy and love by the looks on your faces in these photos. What a wonderful day it must have been to finally have your girl home where she belongs. I am so sorry that she is not still there. It is so unfair.
The whole time I was looking at this post, your speech from last year’s March for Babies kept running through my head- that despite the way it turned out, your sweet Madeline was a success story- SHE CAME HOME, she lived, she thrived. She had an amazing, happy, giggle-filled 17 months with two of the most amazing parents a baby could have.
Though you will always miss her, no one can take that time with your beautiful girl away from you. I am so thankful that your little angel defied the doctor’s very early prognosis and gave you all (and us) the gift of knowing her on Earth for as long as she did. It should have been so, so much more, but thank goodness for what it was. I know you wouldn’t trade those wonderful memories with the World Famous Madeline for anything.
Love, prayers and hugs for you all.
What a completely amazing day that must have been for all of you. You can just see the joy and relief radiating from all of you in those pictures.
Love and hugs.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Time For the Big Change? =-.
Karen Chatters says:
That must have been such a wonderful day! You’re all just beaming.
.-= Karen Chatters´s last blog ..No wonder clothes depress me =-.
I saw “homeward bound” and thought “Oh, they had the baby over the weekend!” But thank you for sharing your wonderful Maddie memories with us. You and Mike are just glowing.
.-= J´s last blog ..Domesticity =-.
Jen L. says:
What sweet, precious memories. Thank you for sharing them. ((hugs))
.-= Jen L.´s last blog ..It’s the little things =-.
The pictures are absolutely amazing. One day you’ll be able to share them with Binky and show her, her very own as well.
I look forward to the happiness that Binky will bring to you and Mike, and for the first sign that Maddie sends to you about how beautiful her new baby sister is.
Love and hugs from GA,
Kristen McD says:
Such a beautiful family. And a beautiful memory. Thank you for sharing, again.
cindy w says:
First, I have to tell you that it took me a few minutes to figure out WTF that thing was above Rigby’s head. Then I realized, ohhh, boppy pillow. Of course.
I loved this. And I can tell you that bringing your first baby home from the hospital is totally surreal, even without the NICU stay. I kept thinking, “They’re just letting us leave with this baby? And they’re not even going to check up on her?”
I cannot wait for you to have a family unit at home again. I know it will never be the same without Maddie, but it’s still going to be really, really good.
.-= cindy w´s last blog ..34 =-.
moosh in indy. says:
The vision of the three of you driving home with Mike driving could make for many a sitcom.
.-= moosh in indy.´s last blog ..the 2010 chevy camaro, a review in several parts. =-.
Trisha Vargas says:
There will be great times for you again Heather.
(((HUGS))) from Florida
Beautiful, just beautiful. As the waiting days for Binky draw closer to an end, I can’t seem to stop thinking about you or Maddie.
Know that we are praying here in chilly, snowy WI.
.-= jen´s last blog ..economic downturn =-.
Oh, yes…the best of times!
.-= mythoughtsonthat´s last blog ..Positive Glasses =-.
I thought of Maddie this morning before reading your blog. I knew today was the day she came home from the hospital. I remember that because, tomorrow is my daughter’s 2nd birthday, the day she started her NICU stay. Maddie’s stay was ending and my little girl’s just starting. We spent 66 days in the NICU, and reading today’s post reminded me how amazing that 66th day was. I pray everyday, that both of us can avoid another NICU experience. I still have 8 weeks to reach that point, I am so happy you are so close to that goal!
.-= Lindsay´s last blog ..For My Little Chef =-.
.-= Michele´s last blog ..You’re Awesome! =-.
A wonderful day indeed! Thank you for sharing.
Sally Moon says:
Oh, your Story brings back so many memories of our “Sara Day”. We felt the same way thinking that they were going to whisk her away at the last minute. My tiny 5lb 1 ounce bundle of Love. Sara was in hospital for 90 days having been a 26 weeker and 2lbs 3 oz. I put so many clothes on her and we had left the xmas lights on the house after turning them out when she was born on Dec 9 and told everyone that we would turn them on the day she came home ( March 13 ) I will always remember my best friend coming to visit not knowing yet Sara was home and hearing her scream “YES YES!” It was wonderful
.-= Sally Moon´s last blog ..AHHHH CHOOOOO =-.
Aunt Becky says:
She’s so beautiful! Loves that girl. Alex still oogles her.
.-= Aunt Becky´s last blog ..Go Ask Aunt Becky =-.
Your life in pictures is so remarkable. I love that all these amazing moments have photos or video to accompany them.
There are more best of times to come ;0
Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] says:
The drive home from the hospital with my newborns was the slowest, most agonizing rides in the car EVER. Everyone passing us by was a LUNATIC in my head.
.-= Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]´s last blog ..#d4haiti Golden Globes Drinking Game, just without the booze. It’s for the good of the Earth & Haiti, so do it. =-.
Before I got to the end of the post, I thought, “Man, I can’t believe they took all those pictures at the hospital before leaving. I totally would’ve grabbed her and gotten the hell out of there before anyone changed their minds!”
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Lesson of the day =-.
Michelle Pixie says:
What an exciting time for you all!
.-= Michelle Pixie´s last blog ..The Dog Pound =-.
Well, that made this hormonal pregnant woman tear up! What a joyous occasion. Our daughter was discharged on Feb 5th after 46 days in the NICU. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures. I’m looking forward to seeing pics of Binky’s homecoming!
.-= Kristie´s last blog ..Chef’s Requested Bacon Wraped Fillets in Pan Gravy with Roasted Veggies =-.
So very beautiful!
.-= Kristin´s last blog ..Sigh… =-.
What a great day! The NICU release day is one of the best days of all, you’re so right!
It’s almost time for a new homecoming and I can’t wait!
.-= Tara.´s last blog ..Tying a Knot. =-.
Tricia (irishsamom) says:
Oh Heather – this made me cry. I sensed the joy, the anticipation and the love that accompanied that sweet, sweet, precious girl on her first journey into her home and the fact that she was yours and only yours. I only wish it could have stayed like that. I think about you and Mike and Maddy and Binky every single day. My children talk about her all the time, like they know her. (I think they might …). I’ve been out of the country for the past three weeks and haven’t commented in a while, but Maddy seems to be everywhere. My Mom asked me who that sweet baby on my blog was. We shared her story and shed some tears together. She is an angel that reminds me every day no matter how difficult it might seem, that life is short and that our children are only on loan to us. I am so happy for you that you’ve made it to the safe mark in with your new baby girl and remember that feeling with my son – after coming off bedrest for 18 weeks. Every moment, every shot, every frustration will be so worth it to take home a full term baby. You and Mike are the best parents I know. You are amazing. I just needed to write today, because your post touched my heart in ways you will never know.
You and Mike and Maddie and Binky are in our hearts and prayers every day and we pray for a safe and healthy delivery very soon. Your Maddie has changed lives. Thank you for sharing her and yourselves.
Love, Tricia xx
.-= Tricia (irishsamom)´s last blog ..2nd Annual Great Bloggy Holiday Card Exchange =-.
Marti from Michigan says:
Awwwww, such wonderful memories. Soon, you will be a family again and Maddie will ALWAYS be there with you.
((((HUGS)))) from freezing cold Michigan!
Maria Delgado says:
Thanks for sharing these pictures.
.-= Maria Delgado´s last blog ..MY LENT PLANS =-.
Beautiful post… thanks for sharing… for a minute i thought you had Binky this weekend Soon you will be a family again… Binky will be in your arms and Maddie will forever be in your hearts! Stay Strong Heather!!! XXX
I remember that day for our family too! Tears of JOY spilled as we pulled out of the hospital parking lot. We had MADE it!! 59 Days of driving back and forth were over.
I hate that the next time you experience the best of times will be tainted by the loss of what could have and should have been… but I’m so, so happy for you that you will have joy again. I read this piece about “rainbow babies” earlier and I thought it to be a nice sentiment.
“Rainbow Babies” is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.
Your posts are always such a blessing and inspiration. Thank you for sharing.
.-= Christy´s last blog ..Not much there…and more… =-.
Awww, this is such a fantastic post. I remember those feelings all too well, though our NICU stay was only 47 days! (( hugs ))
.-= Candi´s last blog ..My baby isn’t a baby anymore… =-.
Such precious pictures!
I wish I had taken pictures of us leaving the hospital – I think I had just had enough of being in the hospital (scheduled c-section at 39 weeks), rooming with a young woman who was constantly getting sick…ughh!
I hope Baby Binky’s entry into this world and yours and Mike’s arms is filled with nothing but beauty, love, joy, peace and many air flutters of Madeline’s kisses upon you all!!
My daughter was born a month premature… this was 20 years ago.. and I remember taking her home in the carseat.. and feeling like “OMG, you’re trusting her with ME??.. without NURSES for BACKUP??… this is all up to ME? What if I trip and fall, what if I sleep through a cry, what if I roll over on her?… WHAT IF???…. and it’s amazing how quickly you adapt.
You will have these amazing moments again, so soon!!!
Want to laugh? I was teasing about “Apple” as the name.. because a certain celebrity had called her daughter just that and I don’t think it’s very fair to the kid… I HAD NOT put together Apple and Spohr..lol.. until you pointed THAT out too.. and I laughed a good laugh.
Looking forward to your happy news. And Maddie’s story has reminded me of how lucky we’ve been TWICE with our daughter.. appreciating it all the more. Maddie’s light shines in places you haven’t imagined yet. Thank you –
.-= Karen´s last blog ..Butterfly Conservatory, South Deerfield, MA =-.
Thank you for sharing this with us. I love the photo with Maddie out in the sun for the first time — the way she’s squinting. So precious.
.-= Katrina´s last blog ..When Life Gives You Girl Time…..Make Pudding! =-.
Katie C. says:
Thank you for sharing these special memories of little Maddie… she was such a beautiful little girl… I know she is fluttering around in Heaven somewhere, whispering secrets to her baby sister in your tummy, telling her what amazing parents she is about to have!
Tricia (irishsamom) says:
Sorry Heather, after I had posted the comment, I realised that I was spelling sweet Maddie’s name the wrong way. Apologies. Jetlag. ; )
.-= Tricia (irishsamom)´s last blog ..2nd Annual Great Bloggy Holiday Card Exchange =-.
I remember when I brought my 6yo home from the NICU. It felt like we were stealing him and someone would change their minds, take him back and hook him back up to all those dreaded leads again. To have him wire-free in my arms away from the hissing and beeping of that NICU was something beyond extraordinarily. This is a beautiful memory Heather!
.-= Caroline´s last blog ..Getting Hacked and a Blogger’s Reality Check =-.
Haley-O (Cheaty) says:
Aww… Rigby. I bet Rigby’s such a source of comfort. I’ve always been glad you have her. This was a really beautiful post (as always). Thanks for sharing this with us. Hugs.
.-= Haley-O (Cheaty)´s last blog ..Cheaty Goes to a Naturopath =-.
Those pictures are absolutely beautiful. The two of you are actually glowing :o) Thank you for sharing!
My husband and I experienced so many of your same feelings when we brought our daughter home after close to three months in the hospital. Crossing the threshold of the hospital door was the best feeling ever!
She had the little security device on her ankle and after spending about a month in the hospital, I realized that device was not for strangers or kidnappers, it was for my husband and I. So many times, I just wanted to grab her up and run, never looking back!
I love your pictures!
.-= Jen´s last blog ..Who Knew…. =-.
I keep thinking about how long you had to wait before you could really hold Maddie. My heart goes out to you today in a whole new way.
Good luck and God bless. I hope you’re feeling good on the “final stretch”.
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Martin Luther King Day =-.
What a beautiful memory, the day your daughter came home! I love the pictures and am thinking of you with joy and sorrow today.
.-= Kendra´s last blog ..Deep Thoughts =-.
Alexandra :) says:
Heather, I’ve been reading your blog since Matt Logelin posted about Maddie, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so happy in pictures.
Amy K says:
You guys know that when Binky arrives, all the well-wishers here are going to break the Internets, right? Except for maybe royalty, I doubt there have been many babies as eagerly and widely anticipated as yours.
I bet it felt good just walking down the halls holding your little angel. After all you’ve been through, I bet you both were beaming with pride. She’s a beautiful little girl.
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Me…..Little Me =-.
(((((Hugs))))) with love.
Homecomings are so beautiful. I wish, as always, that you had a lifetime of them with your gorgeous Madeline. Soon you will be bringing Binky home and this time must be such a wonderful time and yet so difficult to experience without your firstborn.
Everyone is cheering the Spohrs on, waiting with anticipation for Binky’s homecoming, remembering the precious daughter who made you the fine parents you are. I can’t wait to see Rigby dote on another baby!
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..December=Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride =-.
Oh the wonderfulness of bringing home a baby after a long NICU stay. Our son was in for 30 days (not sure how you did 68 days) was the best day of our lives. I did not get any pictures execpt walking outside the hospital, I just wanted to get my baby out the door and in the car!
Your journey gives so many strenghth!
She is such a lovely girl and was such a gorgeous baby (I know, all babies are beautiful, but Maddie made a particularly beautiful one).
.-= Camie´s last blog ..Fearful Excitement. =-.
I have been reading your blog for awhile now, but have felt too shy to comment. As you wait to welcome this next wonderful bundle of joy, though, I wanted to say that I am thinking of you and your whole beautiful family. Your words, your experiences–they have touched my heart and they encourage me to be the best version of me that I can be. Thank you for sharing with us.
Kim ~ CraftyMamaof4 says:
She is such a beautiful girl, good times are coming again, cherish every moment
.-= Kim ~ CraftyMamaof4´s last blog ..I Heart Faces ~ Week 3 Family =-.
catherine Lucas says:
And soon, you will have a second best of times!!!!
.-= catherine Lucas´s last blog ..Mariachis in town!!! =-.
*tears of joy and sadness*
Can’t wait for your next homecoming!
.-= Dawn´s last blog ..Confessions =-.
I’m so happy that you will be able to have another such day very soon!
.-= Melissa´s last blog ..Mommy Guilt =-.
Kim from CT says:
You really show people that they need to embrace life everyday. Thank you for sharing everything you do.
That must have been one of the best days in your life.. after all that worry and stress baby was HOME.
Hoping you feel similar joy when Binky comes home Binky will never replace Madison but will provide a much needed source of joy for both you and Mike. And I hope you do not spend a second worrying about how much you love your new baby girl. Like to think Madeline understands
I am so looking forward to seeing you three together. Another chapter in your lives and a very joyous one indeed.
Thank you for sharing these photos with us. I’ve never seen them before.
Another Mama says:
There is no greater joy than bringing your baby home, but mama’s and dada’s who have had to wait weeks and months for that moment have a special kind of joy. My heart breaks for the time you had to leave the hospital without your baby. I am so glad that you will once again bring a baby home so soon. You desearve that happiness again!
Oh, how I love the tired yet happy picture of the new family of three (four!). Very much looking forward to reading about your next homecoming. I know it will be bittersweet but also full of joy.
Major goosebumps again. I should take a photo of my leg to show you that I am not kidding and it doesn’t go away quickly either. I am getting so excited I can hardly stand it. With my little one who is not so little anymore ( 12) I love to live through babyhood again. Thanks for all you have given to all of us who read your blog….
.-= Deidre´s last blog ..End The Funeral With A Wedding =-.
Hi Heather, I don’t comment all that often, but I wanted to tell you, as everyone has said, the pics are indeed beautiful. What strikes me the most is how you are absolutely beaming in the pic of you holding Maddie for the “first” time, like “Look world! We made it!” I’m so happy that you’ll have that glow again soon, that glow that you can only have when you hold your baby for the first time. I wish you, Mike, and Baby A all the best!
6512 and growing says:
Homecoming day is SUCH a big, surreal, celebratory day in the life of parents of a preemie.
I will always remember our discharge date too.
.-= 6512 and growing´s last blog ..Common ground =-.
Homecoming. Such a beautiful thing. *hugs*
.-= Kellee´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday Diptych #6: Water =-.