It was a happy day in the NICU today. After 117 days of being one big item on a small list of things we could look forward to each day, our friends Tom and Lisa will pack up Nyana’s boyfriend tomorrow and take him home, never to be allowed back inside the nursery walls again. We’re over-the-moon thrilled for them; they were given the ceremonial bluebird on their due date nearly a month ago, and it’s taken this long to get the final boxes checked on their walking papers.
Their little Emperor is a handsome little devil, and truth be told, I’m a bit relieved that he’s leaving before Nyana has a chance to get too hung up on him. She’s much too young for a serious relationship. We’ll give them a play date on the seawall in July and we’ll take it from there. In the meantime, I’ll very much miss the sanity and the normalcy Tom and Lisa were able to help us create during our days together in our overly-sanitized bubble.
I look back on those last few days of my pregnancy, when Don and I still didn’t know if we were having a Benjamin or a Nyana, and I remember everyone telling us to hope for a girl. Girls always do better. Naturally, then, we were thrilled to welcome our daughter.* Girls always do better. So it’s interesting that when I think back on those early days in the critical care nursery, and that core group of five babies—my girl and four boys, all similar in age, size, and gestation—Nyana was the first one in and the last one out. Last man standing is a girl.
I’ve spent many nights awake playing the What if? game with myself; imagining different scenarios and different outcomes. What if I’d not gone on vacation and hiked down a mountain and roughhoused with the dogs? What if I hadn’t refused being kept overnight in the hospital when I first went in to be checked? What if I’d demanded a c-section and avoided passing her the infection that caused her BPD? I could play that game all night if I let myself, so I stopped letting myself ask those questions when I realized that it doesn’t matter. None of that matters. Inside those nursery walls, I’ve been consistently surprised, day after day, at the randomness of it all.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve seen it all by now. Big babies, small babies. Term babies, and many other preemies like Ny who skipped the third trimester completely. Gestational age and birth weight seem to play a small role in a babe’s success, but for the most part, if you’re dealing with a micro-prem it seems to be a toss of the dice; hope for the best and play the hand you’re dealt. Nyana drew the slow and steady card. Her boyfriend got the easy road right to the finish line and then got hung up on how to eat and heartbeat at the same time. Another of the boys had heart surgery and was still sprung right on schedule. It just goes to show that anything goes in the NICU.
Nyana’s not too put out by the fact that she’s the last of that group from our early days; she’s a diva and I wouldn’t dare rush a diva. She’s comfortable where she in the South nursery, and over the course of the past two weeks or so, we’ve finally had a chance to better get to know the only two families with a lengthier stay than us—incidentally, both girls. And so, as has been the theme of our entire journey to date, you say goodbye, I say hello. It’s going to feel strange walking past South Two and seeing a strange face holding a strange baby. I’m so excited for Tom and Lisa, and I wish them many a happy sleepless nights at home. At the same time, I’m looking forward to meeting the faces that will soon fill the three empty rooms in our private ward.
Trajan—best of luck out there. We’ll see you on the other side.
* As an afterthought, we’re also relieved that we didn’t have a boy to name Benjamin. I can’t believe we didn’t check out the popularity trend on that one! (Sorry, Janice!)