For some time now we have wanted to take Isabella back to Charlottesville, VA…her birth place. About a month ago, we booked a trip for this past weekend. We were able to find a direct flight from Houston to Richmond, VA; then there is about an hour and twenty minute drive to C’ville. Both kids did great flying there and back. Zach slept the entire leg of both flights. Isabella played with her toy computer for about 40 minutes and then fell asleep, both times. We were able to catch up with so many people while we were there; it was awesome!
Thursday we didn’t make it into town until 7:30, so we went straight to eat. While eating Mellow Mushroom, Lauren and Abby stopped by to give us welcome hugs. And Lauren got to hold her godson for the first time!
Friday we took our time getting up, ate a little bit at the hotel and then headed over to the NICU. We were able to see at least 15 staff that took care of Bella including Dr. McGahren, the doctor that performed her intestinal surgery. Most of you know that I am a Yankees fan, well so is Dr. McGahren…his scrub hat is actually Yankee print fabric. So when he picked her up, he looked at her and said, “Can you say ‘Go Yankees’?” To which she replied in the cutest high pitched loud voice ‘GO YANKEES’, while swinging her arms. But probably the most amazing thing to us is that Bella ran up to, hugged and very willingly talked to each nurses/nnp/dr that came out to visit with her. It was almost like she knew they were a part of her life. I mention this because most often times she is shy around people she has just met and stays reserved for at least 15 minutes or so. Not on Friday or any other time during our visit to the NICU. (Of course Zach was in heaven having all the ladies pass him around making goo-faces at him.)
Susan, Alix, & Ellen
After about an hour and a half there, we took a familiar walk through the hospital to The Corner. For those of you that are unaware, the hospital Isabella was born at is the University of Virginia Medical Center, which is the teaching hospital for the University of Virginia and is actually attached to the campus. The retail/restaurant shopping area adjacent to campus is called The Corner. And the apartment we lived in during Isabella’s hospital stay is roughly a quarter of a mile down from The Corner. Most of the time we walked back and forth from the hospital instead of driving, so taking this long walk from one side of the hospital to the other was pretty ceremonial. Many times that walk through the buildings, before having the rush of the weather awaken your senses, was a solid 7 minutes of decompression from the reality we were facing. Now we could walk our daughter through those halls as a miraculous success story. It was an amazing feeling. Our plan was to go up to the clothing store, load up on UVa apparel, go over to the church where she was baptized, and then let her walk around on campus for a little bit. Isabella got wrapped up with the soccer, basket-, and foot- balls while there; kicking and throwing them everywhere. By the time we stepped out of the store the weather had changed and began to rain. We decided to go get the car instead of walk them around in the drizzle. Unfortunately this put Bella to sleep, so the pictures we got at the church are of her passed out in our laps.
And this also meant no playing on campus. We had a back-up plan and decided to head downtown to the Children’s Discovery Museum to avoid the rain. Lauren and Abby met us down there for a quick lunch along with a trip to the yogurt shop. Afterward we headed back to the room for a quick rest before dinner with more friends.
Saturday was the big day though. Kam helped me plan a small picnic at the park for the staff we knew as well as some other preemies we met while in Virginia. We had a great turn out despite a good chill in the air and a little drizzle towards the end.
Isabella Fayth (in the stroller)
Later that night we headed back up to the NICU to catch more of the medical staff and went during shift change hours. That way we could catch day and night folks all in one stop. Once again little miss didn’t skip a beat when it came loving on and “thanking” all of those who took care of her.
Lindsay and Jen
Then on Sunday we had a great surprise. We were able to meet up with Colleen, the nurse that was as close to a primary as Bella could get. We were able to have breakfast and chat for over an hour with her and her family.
All in all it was a very nice trip and great to share the progress of our precious angel with the people that did God's work to ensure she had a fighting start to her early entrance into the world. I think Charlottesville will always be our second home, no matter where we live; and the people that touched our lives over those 4 months will be like family.