Mother is the name for God on the lips and in the hearts of all children.
So those of you who have been along from the beginning know that our time spent in the NICU was a huge lesson in patience for me. I spent the days focused on the next milestone, the next development, the next surely we’ll be out of here before… holiday. We missed Thanksgiving and Halloween and Christmas, and New Year’s, Valentines, and Easter, too. We knew we’d miss Don’s birthday in October and were surprised to find ourselves still slogging along when my birthday came and went in April. But for all the days I pined over in the hospital, I’m more relieved than ever to be home, as a family, for Mother’s Day. What an awesome, love-filled, lazy day I had.
I’m looking after the cats of one of Don’s colleagues who lives in the neighbourhood, so I got myself out of bed before either Don or Nyana was awake and headed down towards their place by the beach shortly before 8am. I decided to treat myself to a mocha for the walk to Denman & Robson, and to take my coffee along the seawall for the three blocks connected to my walk. Inside the coffee shop I spotted a five dollar bill on the floor by the till. I offered it to the gent in front of me, asking if he’d dropped it. When he said no, not mine, you keep it, I decided to make my mocha a triple-shot, and headed for the beach with a slow saunter and a smile.
A quick check of Facebook on my phone while I strolled along, I noticed a handful of posts on my page congratulating me on winning the Vancouver Mom Blog contest. Yes, it’s true: Nyana and her Sunshine Brigade won me the title of Favourite Fabulous Vancouver Mom blogger! In addition to bragging rights, you all voted me a $200 leather diaper bag from Bugaboo , and an invite to a party next week for all 30 finalists. Congrats to all the wonderful moms out there blogging their mommyhoods for the world, and thank you to everyone who voted for us. It was an honour to be included in this group of women and it’s humbling to know that so many people care about our little family.
When I got home, Don had Nyana awake with her meds administered and her feed running, and we set about getting Ny ready for her great-grandparents to visit. My Gran & Bubs live just outside the city in White Rock and were Ny’s most frequent visitor during her NICU adventure, stopping in every two or three weeks to see their little bean. Today was the first visit on the outside—Great-Gran brought muffins and cranberry squares and a homemade nursery rhyme with hand drawn illustrations, masterfully framed by Great-Granddad—and Nyana was ever the perfect Princess she always is for her audience.
When Don asked me last week what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I told him I wanted a memory, not a gift. I’d rather we do something together, the three of us, than have a piece of jewellery to pull out on special occasions. After my grandparents left, he pulled out an ink pad and some cardstock. The next hour consisted of us finally getting Nyana’s first hand- and footprints—it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time; we were unable for so long when she was so tiny and fragile, and then as she got bigger it just seemed like something to wait until she was home to do. The footprints were easy; the hands… not so much. We ended up using vegetable oil on her hands and feet before the ink pad to lessen the stain factor, and threw her in the tub as soon as we were finished. We were mostly successful, though I’m certain I’ll have some explaining to do at the pediatrician’s office on Monday morning.
The rest of the day was blissfully lazed away—Don mentioned that he was going to cook dinner and I kindly asked if I could, instead. I’d knocked it out of the park on Saturday night with Shrimp & Andouille Pies and was looking for a twofer. Sure, it’s probably not conventional to cook your own lavish meal on Mother’s Day, but I know Don is an amazing cook and can and would prepare any dinner I wanted just about any day of the week. Today I wanted nothing more than the opportunity to putter in my kitchen with whatever ingredients suited my fancy at the moment. I found myself making some Moroccan flavoured turkey burgers and knocked it out of the park again.
I don’t think I can quite express what it feels like to finally be ‘Mum’ to Nyana; how it feels to know that Don and I are entirely responsible for her every need, at last. It’s been a little over a week now that she’s been home and I still wake some mornings—in my bed which is now in the living room because she is in our bedroom, remember—just giddy that she’s right there and mine all day. I love so much that I’m no longer worried about chest x-rays and who my nurse is, and am instead concerned with whether she’s pooping enough, and is she sleeping too much? Being at home somehow normalizes the situation and makes Nyana’s equipment an afterthought; where in the hospital we worked around Nyana’s tackle, at home we make the tackle work for us, even if that means removing a mask or a sat monitor for a while. It’s nice to finally be allowed to play by our own rules.
I’ve thought often through our journey about my own mum and the strength she’s exuded in her lifetime. My siblings and I were never afforded a life of privilege and we were raised to appreciate that our parents had to work hard for the basics that we enjoyed. My mum was always careful to give us the best life she could give us without giving us the expectation of more. Even though I’m sure every mother wants to give her child the world on a platter, my mum taught me proper grammar and proper manners and proper punctuation, and made me believe that I could be anyone and do anything. Nyana has already proven to me that she can be anyone and do anything, and now it’s up to me to make her believe it.
Happy mother’s day to all of you awesome mums out there; thank you to my mum and my mom for raising me and Don to be the people we are today, and thank you to Nyana for teaching me how to be a good mother. And thank you, Nyana, for my first Mother’s Day.