I remember perfect weather. It was beautiful outside when I left life as I know it to check into the hospital and have my baby. The day she was born was the first frost of the fall. Somehow in my labory drug fueled haze I remember thinking it was perfect weather to have my baby. How crisp fall air was coming and I could take her home and bask in it.
For the next 3 weeks I watched that beautiful weather from a couch in a hospital room. I longed to be out in it. On the few trips home to shower the desperation I felt when I saw women with a stroller was painful. I felt like time was eating away at me and the perfect fall air was only a reminder of it.
3 weeks passed in blur, and we took her home. We brought her to doctors appointments, and target, and her first farmers market. And then we went back to the hospital for her first cardiology check up. And they told us we had to stay. I remember catching my breath, tears welling up, and saying “fuck” quite loudly. And the weather stayed beautiful, and passed us by again, while we spent seven more days locked away. It felt like being in the worst/best hotel/prison ever.
When we were finally free I desperately wanted to be outside with my child. To no longer be confined. The claustrophobic feeling of it all didn’t really hit me until we left. There were times in it all, where I realized I hadn’t even left her room in over 24 hours. Not even to stretch. I simply couldn’t stand to be away from her. I was a mess. A wreck. There was no time for normal new parent meltdowns or post partum depression, as my child’s tiny body learned how to function. That room became my home, my prison and my comfort.
The children’s hospital had a radio-thon this summer and I realized how very lucky we were. I couldn’t see it for a while, amidst the alarming machines, ventilators and transfusions. I’ve been reading her medical record too, and it blows me away to see those moments, those terrifying incidents transcribed by the doctors who I was putting all of my faith and hope into. But now, when we go back for check ups, I see it. The looks on the faces of the families getting their parking passes, wearing their security badges. We were lucky. We are lucky. So lucky.
And so she sleeps. Next to me, like she does every night. She fidgets, and rolls, snuggles and nurses. It’s like someone took my heart out of my body and put it into her. Every so often, on a night like tonight, where the air is crisp and cold again, I’m reminded of our time there, not so long ago. And I feel the strangest mix of emotion.
We drove past one night and weight of it all simply over took me. We had spent the evening wandering the lake front with her, having a perfect night. We drove past and I felt this rock in my stomach. This deep fear and overwhelming gratitude. And then my husband, my wonderful husband, rolls down his window and screams “thank you for saving our daughter!”. And just like that a giggle and tear escaped at the same time. This little family we’ve built is everything to me. It’s all I need, she, he and I.