It's been a quiet Friday night. My husband has taken a rare night off to go out on the town. I'm watching the kids.
Side note: how grownup does it sound to say, "I'm watching the kids." Yeah. If that doesn't reek of being a grown up, nothing does.
So I've spent the evening indulging in things I can never do when he's around: watching shows about shopping for wedding dresses while eating dark chocolate covered cherries. And, I'm getting quality snuggles in with my little guy, who I'm falling so in love with every day. He's just perfection: so deliciously sweet, so soft and all mine. I adore this baby. With Ellie, it was an intense and immediate attachment. With Dash, it's been a more gradual process of getting to know each other. I mean, it was three days until he was in my arms, and quite a few more than that before I was able to breastfeed, and even more until I felt like I could just be his mama in my own way. It took me time to learn what his cries even sounded like. But, we're there now. He can't even cry without my milk letting down immediately in a primal mothering response. Anyway, I digress.
I went back to the hospital today to return a breastpump that I'd rented while Dash was in the NICU. It was the first time I'd been back since we left (and seeing how many appointments I'd be going to before he was born, this was the longest I'd been away from those familiar sliding doors in quite a few months!) and it was strangely comforting. Like stepping into an old home. I know we were only there for 11 days, but once you go through that kind of initiation, it sticks with you.
I saw a dad wearing a NICU sticker, and the look in his eye was one that luckily, Peter and I'd been able to avoid during our stay. He looked stresses to the max, but worse, he looked scared. I tried to make small talk, and asked how he was doing. He implied that he wasn't doing so well, and I asked if he had a baby in the NICU. He then told me that she was being transferred shortly to Children's.
Children's is never where you want to have a child, but having an infant transferred from a level III NICU (meaning, the highest level of care available) to Children's means your baby is very, very critical. I can't imagine.
When I left the hospital, I saw the Children's ambulance outside the loading area, and said a prayer for the baby and her family. I've thought about them all day. Will you say a prayer too, or send some positive thoughts for them? I'll never see them again, but they've been weighing on my heart. And the contrast between our experiences was highlighted in such a way that at that moment, any sadness I had that we had a rocky start went out the door. Yes, it was rough. But we were never scared.
I spent some time tonight researching what Respiratory Distress Syndrome (Dash's diagnosis) really means, and the treatment of it, the long-term effects and the drawbacks of the therapy he received (obviously the benefits far outweigh the draw-backs, but apparently the medication he needed is not without controversy). My takeaway is that Dash was sicker than we realized, and much sicker than a typical 35 weeker "should" be. So I'm basking in thankful reflectiveness tonight. For my babies and their health and this gift I've somehow received.