So many faces in and out of our lives,
some will last, some will just be now and then.
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes—
I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again.
The Smug Parents tantrumed their way into an early discharge for their son earlier this week, and finally said goodbye today to the NICU they’d come to hate so much. Of course, nurses and parents and doctors don’t gossip—that would be highly inappropriate—but through the grapevine some of us are hearing that even the doctors are uncomfortable with the discharge but legally have no permission to keep the child in their care. Naturally many of us parents are dumbfounded that a mother could put her own comforts above the health of her child, and we’re all hopeful for the baby’s sake that he was in fact, ready to be discharged and that the three of them are able to move forward from what was obviously a traumatic experience for them.
It has me thinking about the people we’ve met along our journey to date; how many people have crossed our paths in the weeks and months since Nyana was born, and how many people we’ve impacted as we’ve stumbled along blindly. I saw a young couple I’ve never seen before in the parents’ lounge yesterday and I asked if they were new in town.
“Nah,” he said. “We’ve been here a week now. They just moved us to the Intermediate Nursery.”
Oh. A whole week, huh? Hope you get sprung soon. He nearly fell off his chair when I told him we’d been there since September. And I can’t help but wonder: am I that random woman in his memory ten years from now, when he’s recalling their horrible two-week NICU adventure, but at least it wasn’t as bad as that woman?
We’ve met a lot of people along the way, from teenage mothers with a pack-a-day habit in my antepartum ward, to the parents of the boy that Nyana will certainly (maybe?) marry (date?) one day. I’ve had intimate conversations with people I would never even enjoy a pint with if not for our mutual circumstance, and I’ve irrationally disliked many a parent based solely on the good health and gestation of their child. In time, most of the random people from our day-to-day in the NICU will fade from thought, though a small handful will remain burned in our memories. I doubt I’ll ever forget The Smug Parents, and I know I’ll be wondering about baby Nick for a long time, hoping his parents made the right decision.
As we say goodbye to The Smugs, Don and I reached out to new friends and hosted a couple we met in the NICU for dinner tonight. Baby Neema (pronounced NAY-emma) has been fighting the same lung disease as Nyana since August. Unfortunately for Neema’s parents, she hasn’t had the success on steroids that Nyana has, and today an infection caused yet another huge step backwards for her. Neema’s parents are amazingly strong, faithful people and I’m so thankful that we were able to take them away from their heaviness if only for a few hours today and remind them that others are walking this road with them. Nyana’s story isn’t identical to Neema’s, not by a long shot, but there are enough parallels that specifics overlap and Don and I were able to provide both comfort and nourishment tonight.
I’ve been continually amazed, for nearly four months now, at how life has a way of smacking you in the face when you need it the most. As soon as we get so close we can taste it and I start to get impatient, Mama Smug goes and springs herself early and makes me realize that, actually, waiting ’til Nyana’s ready isn’t such a bad idea. And when I start to get impatient and I think that Nyana’s been through enough already, I open my home to a mother who’s been there, done that way longer than I have, and she’s still keeping her faith as they continue to travel their own bumpy road.
I keep trying to articulate that the NICU is the most amazing experience that I hope no one ever has to endure. It’s not amazing, like, “Wow, that’s the most amazing sunset ever. I’m so glad I spent thousands of dollars to get to this remote part of the world to watch that.” It’s kind of amazing in a, “Wow, it’s amazing to think that she used to fit in the palm of my hand!” kind of way. And it’s definitely amazing when I think about the road we’ve walked already, the people we’ve met who are walking with us, and all the people on the sidelines cheering us along.