More Than Words

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately; watching families come and go from the hospital, observing mums and dads out with their babes. Being in a children’s hospital I see a higher than usual amount of kids with disabilities, or with special gear, and I watch these families as a unit and I wonder what steps they’ve already taken to find themselves where they are now. And then I see couples just out and about on the street, a perfectly healthy child in tow, and I wonder what steps they’ve already taken to get where they are now. Maybe that healthy child with them wasn’t always so healthy. Or maybe the parents spent years of their lives and thousands of their dollars trying just to conceive that child? How do I know what they’ve experienced in their quest for that happy, laughing child?

Now that Don and I have finally been given the all-clear to take Nyana out and about in her stroller, I’ve started wondering what people see when they see us three out for a stroll around the grounds. Do they see just the oxygen tank in the basket of her stroller, and the saturation monitor sitting on the footrest? Do they just see Nyana’s beautiful blue eyes and two adoring parents? Does anyone wonder what road we’ve walked, when they see us?

They don’t know anything about the month that I spent on bedrest in the hospital, or about the day at exactly 25 weeks when I was wheeled down to labour & delivery for monitoring because they thought my waters had broken, and Don and I put on our brave faces anyways.

 
People don’t know when they look at us with Nyana that she used to be a tiny two pounds…

 
… or that she spent 76 days of her life intubated, unable to breathe without upwards of 85% oxygen.

 
As we push Nyana around the hospital grounds and people smile as we pass, they don’t know how terrified I was to hold her finally, five days after she was born…

 
… or how elated we were to celebrate the tiniest things, like finding a preemie outfit that was actually small enough for our preemie…

 
… or being able to pick our baby up for the first time ever all by ourselves, without the nurses and RTs to help.

 
We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas and Valentine’s too, and will celebrate Easter still in the NICU before we see our house become a home. People don’t see that when they see us…

 
… no more than they see the g-tube in her stomach to facilitate feeding.

This whole NICU adventure has been an eye opener in so many different ways. I like to think that after 208 days, I’ve learned a thing or two about myself and about the world. I hope that I’m not as quick to judge as I may have been this time last year, and I like to think I’ve done a good job at learning to pick my battles and learning to not sweat the petty things. I know we’ve come a long ways from where we started, but if you didn’t know where we’ve been and didn’t know anything about us, you wouldn’t see the sick Nyana with the crappy cystic lungs and the mum who’s come close to her breaking point more times than can be counted. No, all you’d see when you saw us is this:

And I’m more than OK with that.

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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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22 Responses to More Than Words

  1. Duncan & Dorothy Gillies says:

    Dear Don, Karen and Nyana
    What a great and touching summary of life to date – something to have to look back to. I am going to visit Grandma Anne this morning – I will have to listen to her brag about her favourite grand daughter – but that is fine with me!!
    Love Duncan & Dorothy

  2. Twiggy says:

    What a great philosophy!

  3. Max's Mum says:

    You guys look so happy out and about with Nyana. She looks so curious about this new outside world. Here’s to more outside adventures in the very near future!

  4. Juju says:

    Dang, you made me cry. What a simple thrill it must be to be outside with baby, who, by the way, is looking cuter than ever.

  5. What a wonderful post! SHivers on my arms scrolling down the photos. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Erin says:

    I love this blog! You both are so gifted in the way you write. You got me crying but hey what else is new…LOL!!! I love that Nyana can see the outside world now. All I see when I see the pics of the 3 of you is how much love there is (I also couldn’t look past the adorable hat with the flower…hehehehe. Nyana is a very smart girl to have picked the 2 of you to be her parents. I can’t wait to hear about her first day at home!!!

  7. Lynn Duncan says:

    You brought happy tears, here.

    I read so many blogs, but you both have a real gift using words.. and the pictures are great too.

    LOVE Ny in her elegant hat and her cute hoodie. I don’t know and cannot say what just the average person might see, looking at you three. I’m so far beyond that casual encounter now, after all these months and I see all of you now, but I can see all that you’ve gone through (of course much that I just imagine from what you’ve shared) and I see ahead… so much potential.

    I see those baby blues, so direct and unwavering, checking out her new world, taking it in.. like she knows she can do anything and that she has the backing of two warrior parents and that the three of you are a team. And a family.

    More tears, here.

  8. Tasha says:

    I can hardly believe how tiny she was…and yet I was following along at that point. She is so amazing. And so are both of you.

    p.s. – this post gave me goosebumps (in a good way!)

  9. Diana says:

    I used to sometimes look at people and wonder where they are going, where they are coming from, what their home lives are like. It’s so interesting that everyone has a story. Some more “exciting” than others. In your case, I think the next chapters are the ones folks will be most interested in when they see that cute little girl out and about. 🙂

  10. robyn says:

    seriously, way to make me cry AGAIN! i love you guys ❤

  11. ShannonB says:

    A beautiful reminder to be thankful for the little things.

    And, for the record, all I see when I look at you 3 is LOVE!

  12. Jen says:

    Very awesome *smile* and truly one of the most beautiful families I know *hugs*

  13. Judy says:

    I have yet to leave a reply to your posts, but I have read each and every one of them, many with tears rolling down my face and just as many with a huge smile on my face and bellowing laughter because of Nyana’s cuteness. This post is truly the one that both had me crying AND laughing. What a beautiful and touching summary of your journey to date and thank you for allowing people that are strangers to you (me for one as I am a co-worker of Don’s) into your lives. I can’t wait to hear about your new adventures as a family.

  14. Ben Ton says:

    Karen
    It’s hard to type while trying to see through the tears …. but here it goes. I have enjoyed, and marveled at, all of the posts from you and Don. The two different writing styles from you both are so complementary I am constantly amazed and delighted. Don, with his great, quirky sense of humor and you …. with your ability to express your inner feelings with no compromise and your honesty and willingness to wear your emotions “on your sleeve” … well, it’s like a pair of gloves … one glove, by itself, can only reach a sliver of the full potential until it is paired with the other … but then ….. it’s magic.

    I swear, if you two don’t find a way to work your writing skills into a career I’m going to find a way to “come back and haunt you.” So, make an old man happy and, to quote Captain Jean-Luc Picard, ….. make it so. Love the three of you and I’m looking forward to watching Nyana discover the world.

  15. Parenthood is an eye opener for many – for you even more so in terms of what you’ve been through. I hope I’m less judgmental than I was too.

    Nyana is looking so good!

  16. Chantal says:

    That final picture of Nyana says it all – she is the reason you go through anything and everything. I would like to believe that if I saw a family like your sweet one out for a walk, I would think there goes two amazing parents to that sweet little child.

  17. Diane says:

    Would you mind sending me your email? You’ve made the shortlist of the 30 Favourite Vancouver Mom Blogs and I have some information to send you and need a bit of info from you:
    http://www.vancouvermom.ca/best-of/nominate-your-favourite-vancouver-mom-blogger-2nd-annual-contest/

  18. Allison D says:

    Oh Karen – you make me cry!!! But happy tears:)

  19. Kirsten says:

    i just loved reading this entry!!

  20. Maia says:

    phew. puts it all in perspective and that’s just the medicine I need when I am just about to lose it over something that seems important, but which I now know really really just isn’t.
    thank you.
    I don’t know you, but I will follow along and send you all my best wishes.

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