There were many amazing people that we met during our time in the NICU. For those of you just joining us, that stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Our particular unit was located in Temple, Texas at the Scott and White Hospital. I have always meant to write a bit more about the eight and a half weeks our boys spent there. Carrie went to the NICU everyday, and I made it as often as I could, never going more than two days between visits. This was a very tough time for Carrie and I, and perhaps one of the reasons that I haven't written more about it, is because I really don't like to think about it too much. Looking back, our time there went by relatively easy. Sure, there were some tough days, and a couple that were very scary. All in all, we were very very fortunate to have three tough little guys that were taken care of by the very best people on earth. As I write this, Cade is sitting on my lap and staring at the computer screen. Someday, I will tell him all about those special people and how they made sure that we get to sit here today.
Back to the point. What I meant to tell you is about the most amazing people that we met during our time in the hospital. First of all, let me describe the unit a bit for you. When you ride the elevator up, you come to the baby floor as I called it. To your right is Labor and Delivery. Take a left and you walk through the waiting room and up to the nurse's station to get into the NICU. You have to be buzzed in. Only parents and grandparents are allowed. No siblings. Next, you walk down a long hallway and on the left are the doors leading into the rooms with the babies. Outside each room is a sink you used to wash up. Next to the sink is a closet filled with gowns that you must put on. Inside this room were all the babies. There were several stations with babies in different stages of development. Those in the incubators were brand new, while the older babies were in cribs. Moms and Dads came and went. Since we were all so concerned with our children, a smile and a nod was all the communication that passed between us. The nurses were not allowed to talk to the other parents about any of the other babies. As a parent, you were not allowed to venture out of your area. Since the room is very large and open, you could get a good idea about what was happening around you. You knew when someone had a heart rate drop or when someone was screaming. Our boys took up quite a bit of space in the room. We were all along one wall. Behind us was a sort of island with computers and all the equipment that the nurses needed to take care of babies. On the other side of that island, in a crib, hooked up to all sorts of devices, was baby Chloe. She was the rock star of the NICU. She was born in January, and by the time our boys were born on June 2nd, she had been in the NICU for about six months.
Carrie and I knew that Chloe must be having a rough time of it. We couldn't ask any questions, so we didn't know exactly what was up, we just knew that this little girl had been having a very very hard time. After a few days, we met her mother whose name is Dawn. She was the most upbeat positive person I believe that I have ever met. She told us that she lived in Hutto, which is Northeast of Austin. She drove there every single day to be with her little girl. Dawn was always so happy for us when she would ask about the boys. Carrie and I couldn't help but feel a bit guilty. Here we were with three healthy babies. Somehow it seemed unfair. Often times, we would run into her just outside the door by the scrub sink. She would give us the latest on Chloe. They were hoping for the best. She was never down. No matter what happened, she was always positive. Carrie and I couldn't believe this. We hadn't been there long and the NICU was already getting to us. We simply couldn't imagine going there every single day for six months. As our boys grew and did better, we watched Chloe go through extreme ups and downs. I regret that I really never got to talk to Chloe's Dad very much. His name is David. I guess that often times he would sit outside in the waiting room with their two young children while Dawn was with Chloe. Chloe's brother and sister could not go into the NICU to see their sister. David would often wait for Dawn to get home from the hospital late at night, and then turn around and drive back up there himself to spend time with her. This trip is around 60 miles one way. All this time they had two children at home and a baby in the hospital fighting for her life.
I must say, and Carrie agrees, that Chloe and her family played a very large part in our surviving our time in the NICU. When one of us would get down, or we would be sad to leave our boys, one of us would say, "What about Chloe's family? They have been doing this for months." Watching their strength gave us strength. Seeing Dawn smile at us when there was literally a team of people working on her daughter was absolutely one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed.
Because of the rules, I never saw Chloe up close. However, she was quite a presence. All the nurses and doctors, and nurse practitioners were in love with this little girl. Her strength and determination to survive was astounding. When my boys were crying, I would say to them, "That girl over there is tougher than you. She wouldn't cry through this. You can be tough too."
As our time at the NICU drew to a close, things were changing for Chloe also. She was moving out of the NICU and into the Pediatric Ward I believe. The last time I spoke with Dawn she had nothing but hope for her daughter and her journey. They were going to be in the hospital until at least August or September. Since we left the NICU we have thought about Chloe often. Carrie would get updates through Facebook from Dawn and relay them to me.
Today, we received the news that Chloe has left us for a better place. Carrie and I are very sad for her family. We wanted to share her story with you so that you would know how much Chloe and her family did for us. We found out tonight just before it was time to feed our boys. I went in to get them and they were all screaming. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. I will not take it for granted and I am very thankful for our boys and I am thankful that we got to know Chloe.
Always positive and upbeat, I want to leave you with Dawn's words about Chloe.
"It is with great sadness for me, rejoicing for her...our precious Chloe Elizabeth Gallaway went home to the loving arms of Jesus this morning. David and I thank you for all of your support and prayers through her precious 8 month journey. God gave us an amazing treasure...we will see her again!"