I had a bit of an epiphany last night as it dawned on me that we’re raising a baby. It may seem a bit ridiculous for me to just now clue in after five months, but up until now, it hasn’t felt like we’re raising a baby so much as it’s felt like we’re fighting to get her better and get her home. I’ve been so focused on the sick baby with sick lungs, and so focused on what her team is doing or not doing, that I’ve not often stopped to just enjoy being a Mum, in the limited ways I’m able to right now.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t been enjoying my moments with Nyana, not by a long shot. Nor does it mean that I’m only seeing the negative, slogging, repetitive routine of hospital living, though it is ever present and ever grating. It just means that I’ve been looking at Nyana’s life through the how do we get her better? glasses more often than the look at what my amazing baby can do! ones.
She’s a beautiful little girl, even more stunning in person than the photos allow. It looks like her hair is coming in a nice strawberry colour, and with every day that passes I’m becoming more and more convinced that her gorgeous smoky-blue eyes are going to stay that way. I saw a girl on the bus this afternoon—she couldn’t have been any older than eleven or twelve—with copper hair and piercing blue eyes. The girl had the same furrowed brow and the same pouty lip as Nyana and I texted Don that I’d just had a glimpse into the future.
She has long moments where she finds herself fixated on a pot light in the ceiling or a brightly coloured drawer across the room, and her insistence on looking past everything more often than not has caused alarm bells in the past and is still a nagging concern in the back of my mind. But the more and more CPAP becomes a distant memory, the more and more willing she is to take in the world around her. She has a physical therapist who comes to visit her to ensure that she’s playing and exploring the way a 10-week old baby should, and she has a follow-up with the ophthalmologist when she’s four months (corrected) to be sure her eyesight and her visual coordination is still on track.
When we do catch her eye when we’re interacting with her, well, Mum and Dad are quite possibly just the best things ever. She has the most infectious smile—which she’s getting better and better at flashing whenever we’re near—and at the risk of sounding like a completely smitten mum, it seems some days that whatever glee and delight she can’t fit into her smile emanates through those big blues of hers. Watch out, Tyra. My baby can smize.
For all the talk that we’ve been hearing about g-tubes and j-tubes and feeding issues with Nyana, we’ve just rounded out a full four days of taking two bottles a day. Sure, we’re sitting in a chair that’s draped in a hospital gown, and Nyana’s attached to oxygen tubes and sat probes, and there is always one nurse and one RT and one or two respiratory therapist students watching as we do it, but somehow, giving Nyana a bottle feels like one of the most natural things we can do with her as her parents. It’s taken a long time to get her to the point where she can orally drink a tablespoon at a time, and even still she gets tired and often peters out before she’s done. But knowing that she’ll take a bottle, and take it well, is a huge relief, and we’re booked for two feeding studies in the next ten days to ensure she’s fully got the hang of this suck-swallow-breathe business.
She’s an attention seeker, and a pretty smart one, at that. I know it’s been said that you can’t spoil a baby, but I’m a bit concerned about her addiction to attention from anyone offering it. We knew she was a diva when I was still pregnant, but I had no idea she’d be so good at getting what she wants so soon. She has figured out exactly what it takes to get picked up, out of her crib, and propped up onto a shoulder. Nyana can go from screaming purple with her sats in the 70s, to wide-eyed smiles and ringing high scores in less than 90 seconds if propped properly atop a shoulder. I think sometimes makes herself desat on purpose just to get one last snuggle out of us before we leave for the night.
Nyana is five months old, but she’s also only ten weeks old. I’m trying not to get too hung up on milestones and what she should be able to do by now, because as with everything from the minute I was put on hospitalized bed rest, we’re on her time now. She’ll get the hang of tummy time when she’s ready, and then she’ll hold her head up high. She’ll start grabbing for objects when she figures out that these hands she has are attached to those arms of hers. She’s smiling up a storm for Don and me and Nurse Awesome, and I know it’s only a matter of time until we start to get some giggles out of her.
NICU staff are finally starting to use the “discharge” word around us, and there’s an excitement building as once again, we believe the finish line is in sight (and by “in sight” I only mean that our hope of late-April is still realistic). I’ve been told that there have been babies discharged on high-flow, and in theory, we could easily be trained to insert an ng-tube for feeding if we haven’t fully mastered the bottle by the time we go home. I had the shocking realization tonight that we’re practically in a position where we could tantrum our way out of the nursery if we were stupid enough.
For five long months, amazing has been the adjective of choice for describing everything from who she is, to what she’s done, to how well Don and I have weathered the storm. I thought that I found the love of my life when I met Don, and that my heart could never be more full. And then Nyana came along, and she’s just the most amazing ball of awesome ever. I wouldn’t change a thing about her. She’s amazing.