A heart divided
As I sit in the hospital watching my daughter peacefully rest, I finally feel ready to write a bit about our NICU journey.
In rounds this morning (Tuesday July 18) the doctor said our baby girl can come home on Thursday (July 20).
I have never heard words sweeter than those.
And in this moment of pure joyful anticipation, I have the strength to look back on the past 5 1/2 weeks.
I'm not sure where to begin. Should I start with how it feels to leave the hospital every day, leaving your baby behind? How my heart has been split in two, torn between my children? My gratitude for the exceptional nurses and doctors in all three hospitals we've visited?
I suppose I'll start at the beginning.
After hearing my daughter being carried miles and miles away in a helicopter, I was stricken with an exhaustion I'd never felt before. The exhaustion of missing your baby. Of having never properly met her. Having never touched or really seen her.
The day I was discharged nothing could stop me from rushing to her. And when I finally saw her, the joy and grief were so intertwined I wasn't sure where one began and the other ended. My first question was to ask if I could hold her. The answer filled me with devastation like I'd never experienced.
The first time I held her was so overwhelming I still cannot think of it without crying.
I spent my first night after discharge in her room sleeping on a cot. I got up through the night to pump breastmilk, my c section incision burning every time I pushed myself upright, and every time I laid back down. I was disturbed throughout the night by loud beeps, indicating something amiss with my baby's vitals. The lights from the moniters captivated my attention and pulled me from rest. The next day I knew there was no way I could stay in her room every night.
And so began the coming and going. Away from her the emptiness of my womb haunted me. When I left her it felt like loss every single time. And when I left home to see her my heart ached for my sweet 2 year old boy who cried at the door as I left.
My heart had been shattered, with pieces left behind with my son, and pieces left behind with my daughter. I am unsure when it will be made whole again. I can only hope it will be when my family is whole.
Having my time split so completely between my two children, the loves of my life, was unbearable.
Learning to focus only on the child I was currently with was painful. It felt like betrayal. But the alternative would be to be miserable while with either of my children, and that was not something I was willing to allow.
This experience has taught me to never take for granted the precious time I have with my kids. Every moment has the potential to be meaningful, and I now plan making them that way. To treasure every snuggle, tantrum, sleepless night, and wet sticky kiss. Every last moment is worth the world to me. It's worth more than the world.
There is nothing I have experienced that is more beautiful, blissful, or exquisitely painful than motherhood.
I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. And I will be counting down the hours until my baby is home, and my family is whole.