The Corrie Story, Part 3

This is part three in a three-part series that has probably gotten wa-a-a-y too long already.  But if you’re still reading, you can see part one of our daughter’s birth story here, and part two here.

Two years ago today, my baby daughter cried the moment she entered the world, just as I prayed she would.  I was flooded with relief.  I hardly got to see her as the NICU team whisked her across the hall to evaluate her.  As we had planned ahead of time, Hubs left my room immediately and stayed right by her side, running back every couple of minutes with brief status reports: "She looks fine!" or "She’s on oxygen, but she’s breathing great!"  Before they took her to the NICU, they brought her to my bed and let me hold her for a few seconds.  She was tiny, but she was clearly very strong and very healthy.  She was taken to the NICU, and I didn’t get to see her again for several hours, while they checked her status more fully and started her IV antibiotics (since my water had been broken so long).  She was a remarkable 5 lbs 13 oz at only 34 weeks gestation (and yes, my due date was correct).  We rejoiced!

I could write pages about our experience in the NICU.  If you’ve ever been in one, you understand. 

The first time I went in, hours after Corrie’s birth, my husband was pushing me in a wheelchair.  He had been in there once already, right after her birth, and he walked me through the rigid security and hand-washing protocol.  He did his best to prepare me for that room, but there was no way he could.

Our NICU was a large room, full of the tiniest little humans I’d ever seen.  What first struck me was the sound of it.  There was a constant, dull whoosh of ventilators and other machines, as well as an unending chorus of beeps from hundreds of monitors.  But for a room full of babies, there was remarkably little crying.  Most of them simply weren’t strong enough. 

Our daughter had been placed in the area reserved for the sickest babies, as all "newcomers" were, until they could be fully evaluated.  It was profoundly sobering to see her in such an environment.  The nurse had coached us that a preemie’s gentle system tolerated a firm touch better than a "tickly" one; so with my hand solidly on her tiny head I wept, suddenly overcome with guilt that my body pushed her out too soon.

Our Corrie proved to a spunky little thing, blowing the lid off every expectation.  Within a day of her arrival in the NICU, she was moved to the level for the healthiest babies.  She nursed–ever so slowly, but surely–when she was only 18 hours old, and she never required a feeding tube.  Except for the first few minutes after birth, she breathed room air the entire time.  She was so feisty that she pulled out five IV tubes in four days, until they finally had to insert one into the top of her head.  It was heartbreaking and funny at the same time, as I whispered to her it was the first of many princess caps she would wear.  She squirmed and cried and kicked in her isolette, cheered on (I imagined) by the photograph of her big brothers taped to the inside of her little bed. 

The hardest part was leaving her at the hospital each night.  I knew how well she was cared for, but, irrationally every instinct in my body wanted to hide her under my coat and sneak her home with us.  Every night I sang a blessing over her:  "May the Lord bless you and keep you, May He be gracious unto you…"

She was doing SO well.  We overwhelmingly grateful for this, but this was mixed with a bittersweet guilt as we got to know the other families.  We met parents who had been heroically existing in the strange NICU no-man’s-land for weeks, even months.  I saw mothers sitting day after day beside their babies’ incubators, unable to touch them.  Twice during our stay, the other parents and I were quickly shuffled out of the room when a baby "coded".  And I will never, as long as I live, forget the look on the face of the mother who described to me how her baby’s organs were gradually shutting down.  She spoke as matter-of-factly as if she were describing what she had for lunch that day–her eyes were dull with shock, exhaustion and grief.  How I prayed for her, for all of them. 

After five brief days (not the two or three weeks for which we had been prepared), Corrie was ready to go home.  I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact with the other mothers as I left, inwardly rejoicing and weeping in the same moment.  But how we celebrated on our way home!  Her brothers would finally be able to meet her.  One of my favorite family photographs (above right, taken by my mother) showed our boys sitting in the front yard, eagerly waiting for Hubs and me to bring her home.  What a day!

And what days we’ve had since!.  It is hard for me to believe that the tiny and fragile little baby she was is the same feisty two year old that I see today.  She is a saucy little bundle of spunk, with her blonde pigtails and dimples.  She dances with abandon to my Abba CD, and she pulls the dog’s hair at every opportunity.  She faithfully carries a Winnie the Pooh spoon around in her sparkly purple purse, and she sings "Ginkle Ginkle Ta-Ta-Ta" (Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star) at the top of her lungs. She runs happily to the door when she sees her brothers get off the school bus, and she has been known to raid my make-up drawer on more than one occasion.  She is a girly and stubborn and delightful ray of sunshine in our house, an unexpected blessing none of us could have known how much we needed.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl–we’re so glad you happened. 

36 thoughts on “The Corrie Story, Part 3

  1. Melene says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredible story with us. My favorite part ( besides when you were able to bring her home) was when you specifically prayed for your husband to know you were in labor and feel at peace and God answered…..

  2. aggiejenn says:

    It’s amazing how He works, isn’t it? What a precious life that Corrie is to Him…one He had planned all along. Happy Birthday, little one! 🙂

  3. Gina says:

    My NICU baby is now a strapping 13 year old who is quickly getting taller than his Mom! Your post today brought back so many memories. Happy birthday to your sweet girl.

  4. 4andcounting says:

    Beautifully told. My daughter had a similar entrance into the world (well, kind of) and she has proven to be our wild, fearless child ready to rush into things head-on. So, perhaps their way of coming into the world was a warning as to what life would be like with them. Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

  5. Rachel says:

    Your memories of the NICU brought tears to my eyes. We spent our own 3 weeks there with my middle son Caden, and I will never be the same. The picture of your boys waiting at home was too precious. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us what a gift our children are. Happy Birthday Corrie!

  6. GiBee says:

    Oh, Shannon — I am so overcome by emotion. A miracle is a miracle — plain and simple — but when that miracle stumbles onto your front door, it suddenly becomes a PERSONAL miracle, and it means so much more. Thank you for sharing your very personal miracle, and yes, I’m so happy she happened, too. Happy Birthday, Corrie! We love you!
    Another thing that brought tears to my eyes was when you were talking about the song you sang as a blessing to Corrie each night before you left the hospital. When Hunter was brought home from the hospital, I would spend hours either holding him, or looking at him in his bassinet, amazed at the wonder that this child was mine, in my home, or in my arms… and I would sing the exact same song of blessing to him from Twila Paris’ CD. Over, and over, and over. So much, in fact, that he goes to sleep every night with her CD softly playing in his room, and even after he’s fast asleep, I can’t bear to turn the CD player off in the middle of the CD because I want his last song to be the blessing Twila sings — sort of like an extra prayer being whispered over him each night. (Sadly, it’s the last song on the CD, and my irrational behavior drives my husband insane because I insist on having the monitor on, and he has to hear the whole CD … every.single.night.)
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful, touching story!

  7. The Wooden Porch says:

    Yea! I love that you shared all this. I really enjoyed reading it. She was such a beautiful newborn, and is certainly a darling fairy.
    God is faithful and good, isn’t He?

  8. edj says:

    Loved this story, Shannon. Happy Birthday Corrie!
    You know, she was bigger than both my twins were at birth, but they didn’t have to go into NICU. Ilsa was only 5 lbs. 1/2 oz and she dropped to 4 lbs. 10 oz. almost immediately, but I talked them into letting me bring her home with me because, I argued, she was a twin and supposed to be small! They were 37 weeks but that is considered term for twins. Abel was only 5 lbs. 4 oz. and dropped to just below 5 lbs. Their coming-home outfits, premie size, just hung on them. They are both still small for their age today, but otherwise healthy and oozing with personality!

  9. Maren says:

    wow. thank you sharon. the picture of your boys waiting is just precious. i can’t wait to be a mom someday.

  10. Janelle says:

    I’ve got that lump in my throat again! I love her birth story. God is so good to us, and it’s so awesome when he makes it clear by answering prayers.
    My favorite is the boys waiting on you, too sweet.

  11. Diane says:

    Beautiful story! My own daughter, our first child, was born prematurely 26 years ago. After 10 days, we celebrated as we brought her home and thanked God for each and every ounce she gained and milestone she conquered. Today, she is a Registered Nurse in the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit at a Children’s Hospital! It became her life goal to work with other small miracles….and she is doing just that. God is so amazing!

  12. Julie says:

    What a wonderful ending.
    When I think about the other parents you mentioned, or how things might have gone for you, I see God’s hand working and rejoice with you.
    LOVED your picutres, thanks so much for sharing.

  13. Shalee says:

    Happy Birthday Corrie! I am so happy that you were given as a precious bundle of joy to your parents.
    Shannon – what a beautiful telling of your sweet little girl’s birth. My favorite part was that you relied on God and his comfort/wisdom/love through it all. What a gorgeous example of a life in Christ that you show to us all.

  14. laura says:

    happy birthday to sweet miss corrie and to my abigael rose who is 13 today!
    what a big girl compared to my own preemie. daniel weighed 1lb 6oz when he was born.
    so glad your life is blessed with your sweet miss.

  15. Kelley says:

    Thank you for sharing Corrie’s story with us. She is truly a miracle! We are celebrating today too…the one year anniversary of the day that my youngest daughter was placed in my arms in China. She will be 2 on December 27th and we will celebrate her and the woman who gave her life that day! It is a glorious day and I cry thinking about the joy that my children have brought to my life.

  16. Antique Mommy says:

    This made me weepy. Your story is so similar to ours. We had Sean at 34 weeks, not because my water broke but because I was a quart low on amnio fluid. He too was in the NICU but only a short time – not the six weeks they prepared us for — and came through with flying colors, no vent, no tube, but the head IV (shiver). He got a 9 on the APGAR because he is an over-achiever like me. The nurse said she’d have given a 10 but she never gives 10s.
    You described all the sensations of being in the NICU perfectly, all the odd noise, the lack of crying. Babies that were there when we arrived were there long after we left or never went home at all. That has never been lost on me and I grieve still for those parents.

  17. Terry says:

    Great! You made me cry at work. I’m glad I waited for all 3 before reading. Didn’t help my boy was in NICU when he was born. He was 2 weeks early on purpose, but the drugs they gave my wife for pain made him stop breathing. He’s great now. God is Good!

  18. Susan G. says:

    Thank you for sharing such a touching and personal story. God must have an amazing plan for Corrie’s life!

  19. Karen says:

    I have so enjoyed this series, Shannon. What a precious gift and amazing story. Thank you for sharing it.
    Happy Birthday, Corrie!

  20. nootonet says:

    I loved the story of your daughter’s birth. God is good — all the time! I worked for nine years in maternity and newborn nursery. Each and every baby is a lovely gift, especially the preemies who do well and go home quickly. Your darling little one was probably 5-13 because she used the sugars you couldn’t metabolize due to your gestational diabetes. Unfortunately, they are fat little babies, but have immature systems. God truly blessed you and you blessed us with your story. Happy Birthday, Corrie!

  21. On Fire For Him says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. As others have shared, we too, had a NICU baby at 34 weeks. It was a tough experience. But God, was just incredible. Reading your post reminded me practically to the point of smells and sounds of those days. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Kathleen Marie says:

    What wonderful memories of how God brought you all through. We spent two weeks in NICU with my fourth and last baby who is now 15 years old. I did write a book (figuritively) about it. It is something no mother ever forgets.
    What a doll she is!

  23. Kristin says:

    My name is Kristin and I “visit” here freq.since you are the wonderful hostess for Works for me…I too had a NICU baby.She was born at just 31 weeks.I LOVE the pic of her brothers waiting for you to come home.Our children were so in love w/our “little” Katherine(they still are).What an experience.To look at her today,you would NEVER know.She is such a BIG strong girl.THANK GOD for His miracles.I am so grateful for you also.My “little”one will be 2 next month.I rejoice w/you. Kristin

  24. momrn2 says:

    Your words of the NICU caused emotions and memories to unexpectedly flood over me… tears streaming at what an awesome and mighty God we serve!!
    Thanking God for your little blessing and the testimony of grace, love, and mercy her little life has already brought!!

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