You will have significant experiences.
I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of
them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh
your memory of these meaningful and significant things.
Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some
may build upon another until they represent a lifetime of
special experiences.
- Gordon B Hinckley

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Everett's BIG Day...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear Beloved Family and Friends,

I have spent countless hours dreaming about what it would feel like to write this email.  I remain in shock and pleasant disbelief that I am actually getting to do it, especially after all this time.  Everett is home…just writing that feels like the weight of a thousand tons has been removed from our shoulders.  We can breathe.  We can relax.  We can smile.  We can be genuinely happy.  Life is good again.

Our little Everett is always full of surprises, and in typical “Everett style,” his discharge from the hospital came as a shock to Zac and me.  We were expecting several more weeks of therapy and growth before his homecoming.  But this was not Everett’s plan.  I guess he finally decided he’d had enough of being poked, prodded, examined, and probably wanted a quiet sleep in his own crib.  Whatever it was, once Everett decided he was coming home, there was no stopping him. 

In the week before his discharge, Everett quickly moved up to full feedings of 55mls of fortified breast milk every three hours.  He also seemed to finally be able to coordinate his suck/swallow/breathe for bottle feeding, although the breast milk he drinks remains thickened.  After three days at full feeds exclusively by bottle, the nurses removed his feeding tube and the doctors made the call that he was ready to come home.  Receiving that phone call is a moment in my life that I will never forget.  Our favorite nurse Sarah, who I often talk to on a personal basis, called me early Monday morning and said “Is the car seat in the car?”  I said, “You know it has been for weeks now.”  She replied, “Is the diaper bag packed?”  I replied, “No.  We don’t want to pack it until we are sure he’s coming home.”  Then she simply said, “Sara, you need to pack Everett’s diaper bag…today.”  I immediately broke into tears.  I could hardly get the words out to Zac except to say “He’s coming home.”  It was one of the most precious moments of my life. 

Shortly after that phone call, a frenzy ensued as I made preparations for our trip.  Zac came home, we packed the diaper bag, we picked out Everett’s homecoming outfit, we made a mad-dash to get the rest of the baby supplies we needed, and then we said good-bye to our house, leaving as two, knowing we would return as three. 

We arrived early at the hospital on Tuesday morning.  One of the criteria for Everett’s discharge was for Zac and I to successfully feed him three consecutive times.  In between his feedings, we were taken to meetings with his surgeon, neonatologist, dietician, physical therapist, and Zac even had to get trained in infant CPR.  It was a whirlwind of a day.  But at three o’clock, just as planned, the final papers were signed and we dressed Everett in his first pair of pants. 

Many, many nurses and doctors came to say good-bye.  It felt like we were leaving our family.  These women had loved our son so much and so well, and it is partly to their credit that Everett lives today.  I didn’t know what to say to convey my thanks…all I could do was cry and hug them. 

At 3:30pm we loaded Everett into his car seat and piled into the elevator.  Downstairs our family was waiting.  Everett had never seen all of them at one time before.  We turned the corner, and their faces were beaming.  They encircled us and we all took Everett in…free from wires and tubes for the first time in his life.  It was awesome. 

The drive home was tedious.  Imagine taking your newborn home and having to fight through rush hour LA traffic.  We made slow and steady progress, stopping several times to let Everett out of his car seat to stretch and eat.  At 8:35pm we pulled into our driveway and completed our long, long journey.

The past week with Everett at home has been full of more emotions than I could have anticipated.  We are blissful, excited, enamored, nervous, neurotic, and exhausted.  But with every emotion, we are thankful that we get to feel it as new parents.  And all of the newborn stuff we were so afraid we were going to miss…we are getting to experience it just like everyone else…complete with screaming meltdowns in the middle of the night.  WE ARE SO BLESSED!!!  The biggest difference I noticed in Everett almost immediately after coming home…he smiles more :-)  And that smile melts our hearts and makes the agony of the last five months fade away so, so quickly.  I already can’t remember what it was like…all I know now is our perfect, beautiful, happy son.  It doesn’t matter how he came into this world anymore, it only matters that he’s here.  We are so happy!  The only permanent reminder of our experience is the scar that Everett bears across his belly.  It used to make me upset and angry to look at it.  But now, it makes me so proud of our son, our little warrior.  That scar makes us love him more.  I realize how lucky we are to get to bring our child home (not everyone at CHLA gets their miracle).  I thank God everyday for this, for answering all our prayers.  Why we have been chosen, I will never know.  But I am thankful…I am so thankful!

We have received many phone calls asking when we can begin accepting visitors.  We are under very strict instructions from the doctors at CHLA to limit Everett’s contact for the next four weeks (until the end of RSV/Flu season).  After that, we can slowly begin introducing him to the world.  I know so many of you are excited to meet him but I apologize that you will have to wait a little longer.  As soon as the time is up, I will let the whole world know that he’s ready for his debut.  I promise.

For all that you, Everett’s prayer warriors, have done…I thank you.  While many times throughout this experience Zac and I felt alone, I know that this was never the case.  Each of you was walking, suffering, worrying, rejoicing beside us.  You love our son as we love our son.  The gratitude I hold in my heart for you…there are no words to describe it.  You gave us hope, shoulders to cry on, words of encouragement, places to vent anger, and shared in our happiness.  Please know that so many times, your words gave us the strength to take another step when we didn’t have the will to even stand.  You have made a difference in our lives.  You are forever connected to us.  You are our family and we love you.  We also know that your prayers and God’s blessings are the reason we hold our son in our arms.  With that thought, we invite you to share in the moments of Everett’s homecoming.  The following website features pictures of the big event.  Please go to  Scroll down to the blog titled “Taking Everett Home!”  These are a few of the photos from the day with the full slideshow becoming available sometime next week.  I will email again when it is complete. We hope you enjoy watching it all unfold.  Each of you was there with us, carried in our hearts. 

With Bliss,

Zac, Sara, and Everett Bollinger (and Jack too)

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  

1 Corinthians 13:13

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