Gratitude… something that’s been a bit hard to come by these days. As we approach Day 170 now of hospital living, looming ever closer to having spent more time in the NICU than I spent pregnant, it’s not always easy to stop and smell the roses. With concerns about an impending surgery, and with the wear and tear of nearly six months weighing on me, stopping for a song and dance about all that is awesome in my life hardly seems like anything near entertaining. And yet, right about now, a ray of sunshine, a reminder of what’s important, is more than needed. So.
Ten things I’m incredibly grateful for:
- Spring is nearly here. I love spring. I love the way the air smells, and the way a blue sky can make a whole city smile after a long wet winter. I love the vibrancy of spring, the feeling that life is returning to a bleak, dismal world. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Nyana was born at the brink of autumn and won’t be coming home until the flowers are in full bloom. She was smart enough to skip winter completely.
- Australia’s grape growers. Seriously. Australian Shiraz is half the reason Don and I have stayed sane and mostly positive for the past six months. I had the realization about a month ago that I used to be a beeraholic, now I’m a wino. I don’t know if I need to blame that on pregnancy, or NICU-living.
- It’s just her lungs. I figured it out early and it’s made it so much easier for me: in the grand scheme of things, it’s just her lungs. It’s not an issue with her heart or her brain, it’s not a disability or a birth defect. The lungs are one of only two organs that can repair themselves and regenerate tissue—the liver being the other—and we quite literally just need to wait for her to outgrow her BPD. She’ll likely be 3 or 4 years old by the time her lungs have fully healed all of her cystic scar tissue, but her lung disease is temporary, and 100% recoverable.
- Clean sheets. Someone else admitted in their blog today that they’re an obsessive sheet washer, ensuring she had freshly laundered sheets on her bed once a week. I generally try to keep to this schedule as well, doing mine on Friday afternoon because every Saturday morning sleep-in deserves to be done in clean sheets. I’m amused that my appreciation of clean sheets once a week would be deemed borderline obsessive to some.
- My amazing baby-daddy. This one’s a bit of a cheat because it’s a no-brainer that I’m incredibly grateful for Don. But he deserves his own little shout-out here because every day he goes off to work and deals with work, and then comes home barely long enough for a shower and a meal before we’re out the door again. He’s exhausted by the time he finally gets to see her, and more often than not needs to fight the nurse or the RT for face-time with his daughter. His two hours are up before we know it and we’re headed home to do it all again the next day. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m so proud of him for doing it every day. I have the best baby-daddy ever.
- Canada. More specifically, Tommy Douglas. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but, man, am I ever glad to be Canadian. Not only would I hate to think what this would do to my insurance premiums if I were American, but I’ve heard that if Nyana were born an American, she’d find it nearly impossible to find anyone who would give her health insurance that she could afford, based simply on her shaky start. Our system may not be perfect, but it’s working well enough to get me and my family home in one (slightly frazzled) piece.
- Cheese, bacon, and beer. Not necessarily in that order and not necessarily all together, but I couldn’t choose one over the others. All three are delicious and worthy of my gratitude. This reminds me to find a good recipe for beer soup in the morning.
- Winter Babies 2010. The birth club I joined almost a year ago when I first found out I was pregnant. Through pregnancy, delivery and the newborn phase, nearly 100 of us have morphed into this amazing sisterhood of support, even though most of us have never actually met each other. I’ve said things to these ladies that I can’t say to Don, can’t say to my mum, can’t say here on this blog. They’re some pretty special gals, and I’m pretty grateful to have them.
- Building childhood memories. I don’t remember where it came from, but somewhere along the course of our relationship, Don and I started building childhood memories. Any time we found ourselves facing the unknown—a new job, maybe, or a new neighbourhood—we would clink our glasses and make a toast to buidling childhood memories. Nyana’s time with us has prompted the creation of many new childhood memories for Don and me.
- Nyana’s Army. I remember sitting in my hospital bed days after Nyana was born; Don had already left for the night and I just knew I needed to write. Our decision to blog our adventure has been one of the best decisions we’ve made through this journey. It’s been therapeutic for us, informational for you, and I like to think it serves as a pretty honest documentary for a sixteen year-old Nyana. Knowing that we have all of you—hundreds of you now, every day (crazy!)—cheering us on from afar, it’s so much easier to get up and do it every day. As I’ve said before, we keep the blog so that you can keep cheering us on. I’m amazed on a daily basis that we have so many people on our side, so many people along for the ride with us.
I met a new mum in the parent’s lounge today—a young thing who was still counting her stay in days—and I tried to convey to her what an awesome place the NICU can be if you let it. I told her about how awesome some of the firsts are, like the first bath or even the first outfit. She seemed to relax a little, almost as if she realized that she’s allowed to have a bit of fun with her babe, despite her current situation. It reminded me that it’s OK—no, it’s necessary— for me to relax a little bit too, and enjoy the simple things. Sometimes it’s important to stop to do a song and dance to appreciate the awesome in your life. And I have a whole lot of awesome to celebrate.