Perspective Is Everything

So, as is always the case, the world has found a way to come along and slap me across the face and force me to see the world in a different light. I learned the grim news earlier this week that of the six rooms in our ward, there are currently three rooms housing babes who will very likely not live to see their 5th birthday. It’s questionable whether they’ll ever even get to see the blue sky. All three of them were born full term, and in a strange coincidence, two of them are to 15-year old mums. The maternal grandmothers of each of these babies must stand vigil by the bedside, because the mother herself is not legally old enough to consent to any treatment for her child.

I’ve been thinking often these days about Baby Neema, too, and how I’m certain her Mum would gladly spend my two hundred days—double or even triple that if she had to—if it meant a different outcome for her precious angel. I see babies come and go with physical or mental disabilities that the families will have to endure for years to come, and sadly, many mothers who are here because they didn’t give their pregnancy the respect it deserved. In the grand scheme of things, with all the heartache and uncertainty that so many parents must put up with in this nursery, who am I—with my baby who gets to come home with us eventually; my baby who will outgrow her sick lungs and have only this blog and a mountain of photos to remind her of her incredible beginning—who am I to complain about what I have?

So in an effort to prove to everyone—or perhaps to prove to myself—that it’s not all misery and frustration here in the NICU, I have compiled a (small) list of things that aren’t so bad about this place.

    • The people. There are more than 200 nurses on staff in the NICU and at 201 days, we’re reaching the end of the line. It’s not often that I walk in on a bedside nurse that I’ve not seen before, at least in passing if not assigned to Nyana. Pile on the neonatologists and the pediatricians and the respiratory therapists and the cleaning staff, and that’s a whole lotta people to meet in one hospital stay. Most of these people have been wonderful to Don and me—and I’m thankful to each one of them who has had a part in helping Nyana thrive as much as she has—and I know that many of them who I’ve come to care about personally will remain a part of the stories we tell Nyana for years to come.

    • I’m not a doctor but I play one in real life. I’m convinced that when we finally wheel Nyana out the front door in her stroller, they’re going to hand Don and me our credentials for respiratory therapy and clinical nursing, as well as a Ph.D. in stress management. As we ramp up our efforts to get ourselves home, our involvement with her care has increased exponentially. While at the beginning it was nothing more than diaper changes and temperatures, we’re now at the point where we’re barking at nurses that we really don’t need help with her bipap mask / feed pump / Ventolin puffer, thankyouverymuch. I especially get a thrill out of drawing up her meds and pressing down on that syringe; watching and knowing that I just injected something into another human. It’s like when we used to play doctor as kids, except this time it’s real.

    • Hope, faith, joy. No, not name options for baby #2. For as much heartache and despair as there is within these walls, there is an overwhelming feeling of optimism flowing through every inch of the nursery. Every parent here believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that their child here is the most amazing baby ever. Even those three families who know they’ll never get a lifetime with their babies still hope the doctors are wrong, still have faith that the world has a plan for their babe, still revel in the joy that is their little miracle. It’s humbling and amazing to see just how strong the human spirit is, especially when forced to fight.

    • Finding happiness in the small things. A solid 24-hour period with zero spit-ups is celebration-worthy in our world. Finally outgrowing a 3-month sleeper a few short weeks before her seven-month birthday is pretty special, too. And the thought of her chasing a soccer ball around the pitch, something most parents think about but don’t really think about, is quite probably one of the best thoughts ever.

    • I’m not Superwoman, but I’m close. It was in my early twenties that I decided that my thirties were going to be the best years of my life. What I didn’t know back then, though, was that I would spend my 30th year learning more about myself than I had learned in all my years previous. Learning what unconditional love truly means, learning how far I can push myself beyond my boundaries and learning that I’m not as unbreakable as I like to think I am. The past year has also retaught me a lot of things I thought I knew: the definition of stress and fatigue, and the lengths a person can go to for the benefit of someone they love. I’ve learned that I’m way more fragile than I like to believe, yet I’m stronger than I ever imagined.

    To come from not even knowing if we’d ever bring her home, to counting down the days until we do is truly amazing, and I’m going to savour every moment I can with her, every day until the tables turn and she begins to savour every moment with me. Our experience on this roller coaster may not have taught me patience yet, but interestingly, it has taught me to stop and smell the roses. For all of my 30 years I’ve thought that was a metaphor for patience, not for appreciating the small things. Perspective, I guess.

  • About Mrs. B

    Wife, mother, marketer--not always in that order. Lover of fine food, good company, and exceptional grammar. Mother of one former micro-preemie and one full-term monster baby. Building childhood memories in Vancouver's suburbs.
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    8 Responses to Perspective Is Everything

    1. Duncan & Dorothy Gillies says:

      Hi Don, Karen & Nyana – Sounds like you are feeling better about things and it does pay to put everything in perspective. You all are such a loving family, I just know all will go well and you will get home soon.
      Love and Hugs from Duncan & Dorothy

    2. Kenna says:

      I am a new reader, but I think you guys are amazing. You are truly a superwoman (and man) in my opinion and I am sending best wishes to the amazing little girl that is Nyana. She is so beautiful!

    3. Lynn Duncan says:

      Karen, perspective is important; there is always someone worse off than you are, or Nyana is. Many such someones. But then again, that doesn’t negate what you and she have gone through or your own pain at any given time.

      You have gained so much knowledge and I know you’ll always share that with those who come behind.

      Nyana, the world is just waiting for you to enjoy 🙂

    4. Tasha says:

      Lovely. I loved the part about playing doctor!

    5. Linda says:

      Karen, you and Don were given a gift on Sept. 20th and though it came in different gift wrapping than most newborns arrive in, this gift is just as special, just as precious as all of the others. It is only the different wrapping that has made you change your perspective on things, everything has always been the same, has always been there; it is just that the different wrapping of this gift has made you open your eyes and your hearts to see things that have always been. We all have Nyana to be thankful to, for arriving in this different wrapping she has helped many people change their perspectives in this thing we call “Life”
      Thank you, Ladybug!!
      Love Mum/Grannie

    6. Stacey & Lucy says:

      Hope is the name of my preemie I lost a year before Lucy was born and it is what I have always in my heart and will be reminded to keep as I go through life. That is what got me through my 140 something days in the NICU.


    7. As close to superwoman as anybody I know!

    8. Diana says:

      If you guys can find perspective given what you’ve been through, perhaps there’s hope for the masses.

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