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the greatest club nobody wants to join

“But there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.  And love will not break your heart but dismiss your fears.  Get over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in your heart.”



In the Catholic Church, we have a separate liturgical calendar where we follow liturgical seasons and celebrate holy days.  January 22nd is a particularly profound day in the Church.  This is the day we are asked to honor the Sanctity of Life.  The root of this teaching is completely centered around creation – that no human is an accident, but carefully and intentionally created by God with an intrinsic good.  I bring this to attention simply because for me, it is certainly no coincidence that Kellan Vincent Coats was born on this day.


After experiencing a full placental abruption, I was rushed for an emergency C-section in the early morning hours of January 22nd.  Due to the necessary haste of my medical team, I was placed under general anesthesia and later woke up to John by my side telling me that our son was here and already a fighter.  I unfortunately took a turn and experienced a massive hemorrhage which resulted in an additional two surgeries.  I am doing well now and on my way to a complete recovery.  Because of the abruption, Kellan suffered trauma during delivery as well, but this gallant fighter revealed his true nature and came out on top.  He is now under incredible care at the NICU and will remain until right around his due date in late April.  We will learn the effects, if any, of his trauma as he continues to grow and develop. 


After a month of being in the hospital. I was discharged to finally go be a wife and mother again.  But let me tell you, I never really understood the true meaning of ‘bitter-sweet’ until that day.  I was packing up my room thinking of everything I wanted to do with John and the girls, what I wanted to eat for dinner, the clothes I wanted to wear, the places I wanted to go, etc.  But leaving the hospital felt wrong.  What were we doing???  We were just going to go home and resume life as normal while a member of our family was left behind??  It felt cruel.  And hidden in those thoughts was the stark truth staring John and me in the face – “life as normal” didn’t exist anymore.  We were forever changed.


John and I are now part of a club.  The greatest club in the world filled with the most amazing and resilient humans, but the problem with this club, is that nobody ever wanted to join.  We are NICU parents.  We now live this unnatural life of being separated from our child, juggling work, children, household duties, with hospital visits, medical jargon, and trying to grasp onto our parenthood in these tiny moments of diaper changes, temperature checks, and hand hugs through a plastic barrier.  In my own personal estimation, a parent holds their newborn roughly 12 times per day.  In his 49 days of life so far, I have held him 10 times total.  It’s excruciating.  NICU life is a complete roller coaster.  I know vocabulary I never even wanted to know.  Do you know what a blood gas measurement is in your oxygen?  Neither did I.  How about OG output from your gut?  No?  Me either.  There was a reason I never went into the medical field!  We hold onto the good days so tightly and the setbacks, big and small, all feel like your world is crumbling.  It’s awful.  When we met one of the docs (whom we are trying to figure out a way for her to join our family) she introduced herself and said, “I’m very sorry you have to meet me.”  That sentence was oddly calming because she understood on a deeper level what it meant for parents to be sitting in that chair. 


So what makes it so great? The care team is incredible.  The nurses and doctors are not only skilled but have an investment in Kellan that’s different than any other doctor I’ve met with.  The NICU isn’t like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  I was scared to be there because I assumed there would be family members crying in every square inch, loud and scary alert sounds, doctors running around with fear in their eyes…. No, this unit is peaceful, calm, hopeful, and dare I say…joyful.  The staff is hugely respectful to parents.  They understand our emotional mood swings and occasional outbursts and meet us with kindness.  We are part of every step of the journey; we are included in daily rounds, discussions, and all decisions.  We are invited to participate in his care as much as possible and each question is answered with a genuine patience and understanding.  We receive daily updates from the neonatologists and the best part about these is the amount of time we are given with the doctor.  Not a single nurse or doctor ever shows you if they are too busy for that discussion at that time.  They come in, sit, and stay with you for as long as you need. 


Passing other parents in the hall or sitting with them in the snack room creates an instant and unbreakable bond.  There is a look we all give each other.  A look that says, “I’m sorry you’re here, but you can do this.”  We are given daily passes that say, “NICU Parent” at the front desk and we typically leave them on throughout the day in case we go back to hang out with Kellan.  One day John was at the library with his sticker and another dad walked up to him and said, “I was there and I’m so sorry you have to be there.”  It’s statements like that and what the doctor said to us that mean the most.  It’s an unexplainable experience that is so scary when you’re in it, but in trying to navigate through; the only thing left to hang onto at the end of the day is hope.  And when someone gives that to you in a gesture or look, it’s everything.  “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage.  Anger at the way things are and courage to know that they do not remain as they are.” St. Augustine


It is incredible to see how many souls Kellan has touched in his life already and we are indebted to all of you for your prayers, love and support.  The outpouring has truly been inspiring.  The meals, texts, calls, letters, gifts, etc all show us that Kellan will never be alone.  He has an army behind him, telling him that he can do this, and he can – he is.  We can’t wait for you to meet this incredible human.  Even with setbacks, he seems to meet a milestone everyday.  He is nearly 4 pounds, wearing clothes, regulating his body temp, on the lowest ventilator possible, etc.  God willing, we will start to practice breast/bottle feeding at the end of the week!  We are still on track for an end of April/early May discharge date.  Please keep praying! 


We are forever indebted to each of you and we truly hope you know how grateful we are to all of you.  Stay tuned.  I promise I will be better about posting :)


Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!






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Such a beautiful, touching, and hope filled account of your NICU journey. The beauty, the joy, the blessings amidst a scary, exhausting, and trying time for you all. Keep it up Kellan! Rooting for you everyday!


Amen amen, Avery! Kellen, you, John and the girls continue to be in my daily prayers.

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