Gratituesday was awesome. I spent all day Tuesday feeling warm and fuzzy about things that I love; things that make me smile when the world isn’t going my way, which lately, feels like every day. It took me less than an hour to find ten things to appreciate, and the resulting hours of bliss I enjoyed thinking about them and rereading my post (yes, it’s true) made me forget for quite a few moments about the daily grind. It would be nice if every day could be Gradituesday.
But every day can’t be Gratituesday, and it’s probably a good thing, because Wednesday found me counting to ten and taking deep breaths quite often. I’ve come a long way in our time in the NICU, but my patience is still severely lacking and I still frustrate easily. So in an effort to release some of my frustration, below is a list of ten things I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to when we finally get our walking papers.
- The beeping. Oh dear Lord, the beeping. The incessant, non-stop beeping. Her monitors beep, the thermometer beeps. The food pump beeps, and the scale beeps. Nyana can be a perfect angel passed out on my shoulder, and she’ll still beep—and worse, the beep for high scores is the same beep as for low scores. If it’s not Nyana beeping, I can still always hear the other babies on the ward ringing off their alarms. I may develop a twitch before we’re finally sprung.
- The questions. How’s she doing? Is she home yet? How big is she now? How are you doing? When will she be home? How do you do it every day? We know people ask because they care, and we know people don’t realize that we’re asked the same barrage of questions every day, multiple times a day. While we more than appreciate the attention and are always more than thrilled to tell everyone about our amazing daughter, we’re really looking forward to being uninteresting again, when we’re just another young urban family, and nothing more.
- Not “loving it”. The days I spend with Nyana are not at all the days I imagined spending with my newborn. I’m over the resentment and the bitterness of everything I didn’t get with my pregnancy, but there’s still that nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that I’m missing out on so much of her by having to share her with the whole medical team. I hate the feeling that I’m taking my Mommy 101 class under a microscope, with the watchful eyes of nurses who are all too willing to take control if they feel I’m doing it wrong. I’m having a hard time loving motherhood right now, and I can feel so many opportunities for precious moments just slipping away from me in the hospital. We need to get her home soon to salvage whatever babyhood she has left.
- The #17 Oak/UBC. Hands down, the stupidest route in the city. I’m sure I’m mentioned my dislike for this bus route before, and I’m not going to miss this part of this chapter of our lives one single bit. Factor in the fact that the hospital has made a germaphobe of me, and I’m more than looking forward to going back to my downtown living, where everything I need is accessible on foot. Goodbye, public transit.
- Subway sandwiches. I actually skipped dinner completely last night just to avoid eating another Subway sub. Don’s been bringing Subway to me at the hospital since August, and with good reason—it’s relatively cheap, it travels well, and it can sit for some time without needing to be refrigerated or reheated. It’s perfect for hospital living, and the thought of it right now kind of disgusts me. We’ve probably eaten more Subway in the past six months than I ate when I was in 11th grade and had a crush on the local “sandwich artist”. Don and I are both looking forward to never eating at Subway ever again.
- No timeline, no budget. In the real world, I’m a project manager. I manage timelines, I manage budgets, and I calm the client when they need assurance that the project is still on time and on budget. Nyana doesn’t have a timeline, nor does she seem to have a budget—either in terms of healthcare dollars or in terms of emotional investment from her parents and her Army—and the uncertainty is driving me crazy.
- Lack of “me” time. Ironic that I can’t wait to bring a baby home so I can finally regain some “me” time. Most moms mourn their free time with the arrival of a baby, but for me, having Nyana at home will be a much needed return to bread baking and floor sweeping.
- The long yellow hallway. I don’t know if I hate this hallway more on the way in or on the way out. Coming in, wondering what I’m going to find today, whether or not I’ll hate my nurse today? Or leaving, feeling so guilty for leaving her wide-eyed and wanting to play, or feeling shitty that she was fussy and wanted nothing more than a shoulder to cry on, literally. It’s awful, the older she gets, knowing that she’s there and that that long yellow hallway separates us.
- The silence between us. I remember months ago—way back when we were still NICU virgins and we had no idea what to expect—Don and I used to walk towards the Skytrain after a visit with Nyana, marvelling at how thrilled we were that we were us, because other couples wouldn’t be as awesome as we were being through everything we were enduring. We’ve always been proud of our relationship, proud of our understanding and our compromise, and yet as the past months have worn on, we’ve agreed to take a head down, forge ahead, meet you on the other side approach to our NICU experience. I know Don and I can survive Nyana and parenthood, we just need to survive the NICU first.
- The dust on the stroller. It’s true, Nyana’s stroller is covered in dust, and it ties back in to #7 where I’m having troubles finding time to sweep my floor. I’m also having troubles finding time to wash my windows, exercise, and cook inspired meals for my amazing baby-daddy. We set up her crib and her stroller soon after she was born, to give us some semblance of reality while we waited for her to come home. I look at her awesome off-road stroller and I think about the trails in Stanley Park that Miss Ny is going to lurv, and I can’t wait until the day we dust off that stroller and show Nyana the world.
I know that bringing Nyana home doesn’t put an end to everything on my see-ya-later list. I filled out the application today to bring nurses home with us (because you know how much I love nurses!) and I had a conversation about the tubes and wires and beeping machines that will be coming home with us. We know with much certainty that leaving the NICU is a temporary escape, and that we’ll become well known in the PICU—the pediatric ICU—before the end of the next flu season. It’s inevitable that everything we’re enduring here in the NICU will spill over into home life and nearly all of Nyana’s toddlerhood, but getting her out of here means we finally get to start building childhood memories… for her.