Monday, October 6, 2008
So I totally dropped the ball last week and somehow forgot to write my "My Story Monday" post. After having promised the rest of the day's story the week before. I'm very sorry about that! It occurred to me as I was drifting off to sleep Monday night... isn't that when these things always hit you? So, with further ado, I will continue from where I left off here...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It wasn't all peaches and cream on our journey over to the adjacent children's hospital. I got sick twice and my darling husband found restrooms and rinsed out my little basin without comment or complaint (I love that man). My sister-in-law rushed to help clip my very long hair back with the jumbo sized barrette she had brought for just that purpose. I had two IV poles and another holding my catheter bag that had to be juggled alongside me. But I truly mean it when I tell you... none of that mattered.
The policy in our NICU was to only allow two visitors per baby at a time. This kept it from getting crowded and chaotic in there and allowed the nurses and doctors to have access to the babies if it was needed. I never questioned this rule and it makes sense to me. That being said, it was a given that Christmas Eve morning that, though there were six adults chomping at the bit to see this little girl, I would remain one of the two for the entire visit. Mommy's privilege. Well, that and the fact that I was hard to move around with all that gear.
When I first saw C. that morning, it looked like she was covered in saran wrap. Essentially, it was. This helped keep her not fully developed or toughened skin moist and warm. She also had an IV feeding into her belly button, another IV in her arm, a too-big hat on her head, and funky looking foam "glasses" designed to protect her eyes from the bili-lights that glowed above her. I'm honestly not sure why she needed those little foam goggles since her eyes were not yet open and wouldn't open for another 2 1/2 weeks. I imagine it's protocol and designed to prevent any damage just in case her eyes were to unfuse. She had a ventilator tube down her throat and a whole mess of tape on her tiny little face.
I've heard some parents of micropreemies describe their babies and mention how frail they looked, how sickly, how "far from normal". When I read those descriptions, I can sort of relate. C. certainly looked nothing like our full-term son had. She was less than a foot long with skin so thin it was transparent. She had little to no fat on her body yet. So little, in fact, that she didn't even have a crack on her little bottom. I'm serious. So, in that way, I can see what these parents are saying.
However... if I tell you the plain honest truth, it is this. When I looked at my daughter, I saw a tiny, perfect baby. Maybe I was delusional or overly drugged, but I saw an itty-bitty little girl with ten long slender fingers, dark hair, and her mama's long legs. I wondered over her eye color and smiled at her feisty personality. I was, quite simply, in awe of my precious child, much as any parent would be.
I listened attentively to the nurses while they explained all the monitors and what all those different beeps meant. I jumped every single time one of those alarms went off and I know my eyes grew wide with fear. It would take a few days before that reflex faded and I became like the more seasoned NICU parents whose gazes calmy lifted to observe the monitor and then drifted back to whatever they'd been doing before the interrupting beep. My husband, mother-in-law, sisters- and brother-in-law all took turns coming in to see her and stand beside my wheelchair.
They all commented on her beauty. They all spoke of what a precious Christmas gift she was. They all pondered about my recently deceased father-in-law who we were sure served as her guardian angel. He would have been so incredibly tickled by this tiny, feisty little female. I can promise you that.
We didn't get to stay all that long. I grew tired and weak after an hour or so. It was torturous to say goodbye, but my husband promised we could come back later. (And we did.) But I had to heal in order to be the mother she needed me to be. And I needed to get back to my room...
I had another child to mother. And it was his very first Christmas too...