I’ve always been good about celebrating Thanksgiving. I love to cook a bird, invite all of our orphaned friends, crack a bottle or two of wine and take the time to appreciate all that we have—health and wealth, warmth and happiness. But this year was different. I just didn’t feel like cooking a turkey this year. I had more important things to do, more pressing places to be. I had a beautiful girl to attend to.
We knew going into this whole preemie experience that they wouldn’t all be good days in the NICU. And today was one of those not-so-good days. As soon as we arrived, the daytime nurse was on me, practically yelling at me for not producing any milk for Nyana. “Well, you can’t keep her on donor milk forever, you know. What are you going to do?” When she was done berating me for not being able to lactate, she belittled me for not knowing what the doctor’s plan was for Nyana’s ventilator, talking as if Don and I were the ones holding up whatever decision was to be made. It was all I could do not to walk away from her.
It was imperative that we speak to the doctor on call, said the nurse. I say this in the nicest way possible, because I know that of all places Nyana could be, there’s nowhere better than BC Women’s. But my god, I swear they called out the entire clown posse for shift this weekend. The NICU doc on shift was speaking English to us, I know, but his Spanish accent was so thick even Don was having troubles understanding him. I felt more confused about Nyana’s care after talking to him than I was prior.
Don and I will be at the hospital early tomorrow morning to attend rounds with the doctors, so that we can be better prepared for what this week holds for us. They’re hopeful to extubate her in the coming days but would first like to start her on Dexamethasone, a steroid medication meant to stimulate premature lung development. The doc had explained to us that there is a risk of developmental problems with babies who have been prescribed Dex, but he was unable to articulate for me whether he was talking about cognitive delays, or motor skill issues, or if “developmental problems” simply meant that she’d be six, instead of five, by the time she learned to tie her shoelaces.
Despite the less-than-stellar visit with the nurses and doctors this evening, Nyana was looking as good as she can be. Don took her temperature and I changed her diaper, and we both sat and stared at her as she slept, both of us in awe of this tiny little creature we’d created, both of us just holding our breath waiting for the day we can take her home and finally start the next chapter of our lives: parenthood.
I changed my Facebook status last night to read, “Karen is thankful that the tiniest human I’ve ever seen was able to completely re-teach me everything I thought I knew about love, life and what matters. I wrote a letter to Nyana the day she was born, thanking her for re-teaching me the word “amazing”. It would seem I can add “thankful” to the list of words she’s re-taught me.