It’s been a year.
A very long year. A very long year that went by quicker than I could ever imagine.
Last year at this very moment, we were settling into a room that we had walked past for 116 days, never knowing if we would ever see the inside of that room for ourselves. Sometimes the door was cracked open and I could see inside, but I was always afraid to look for long, as if I hadn’t quite earned the right to see what was inside. And if I stared and tried to steal the secret, we might never get to see the inside of the room. And then our day came. The night we roomed in with our son and for the first time in his life, became his watchful caregivers without the hovering of nurses, beeping of monitors or other equipment to tell us of every rhythm of his inner workings. For such a momentous day, it was not a fancy room. Actually the word “dinky” comes to mind. But after it all, it was the first place we were really allowed to be parents.
The next morning, then turned into afternoon, we waited and signed paperwork, and then almost like buying a car, he was ours. Ours to walk down the hall, and go through those mysterious double doors that had the foreboding presence of the NICU. Those doors that intimidated outsiders from entering, but held our children securely from the germs of the outside world while they grew into little people from the small alien like creatures that entered the world and began the literal fight for their lives.
Our lives, hectic before, really started that day. The first day we placed him in the car next to his sister. The first day we left that hospital hoping never to return. The first day we were ..HOME. As a complete family. No more fractured time spent away from one child or another. No more worry or fear that our children would be forever separated from one another. HOME.
I carried a baby out of that hospital. A moment that had been 117 days in the making. The moment I wished for the first time I left the hospital. I did not have balloons, or the new mother glow. It was apparent to all of those who passed that this 8 pound baby was not a new baby. We would get a few glances, but no one saw the miracle that was unfolding before their eyes. The 8 pound baby that was born 1/8th of that size, who wasn’t supposed to live a week. Who had fought for 4 months relentlessly to reach the moment he could be reunited with the sister he would cuddle with in utero.
We placed him in the car, on the side of a busy parking garage, again not the most elegant event but starting your life in a hospital never is. Diva looked at me and asked if we really got to take him home. And when I told her yes, she told me that he was the best baby brother ever. And he was HER baby. And as a mother, I look at the two of them together, and strangely – I don’t think she is wrong.
The last year has brought joy, tears, tough decisions but mostly love. We fight hard, we cry hard, but we love hard, too. Each day presents with new challenges, and some days we even manage to make an ‘inchstone’ too. But he still fights with the same determination he had to get out of that NICU, only now he has the strength of his sister with him.
He always sleeps better when he sleeps in her bed. His temperature regulates, he doesn’t have seizures, and he smiles.