Nyana hit eight months last week and we’re coming up on a whole month now at home. I can’t get over how busy life has been since she’s come to live with us full-time, yet at the same time I can’t get over how much can be accomplished in a day when my time isn’t spent trekking across the city to the hospital, just to argue with doctors and watch Babygirl sleep. We’re falling into a rhythm and we’re ironing out schedules, and we’re becoming a cohesive, happy family. But holy hell, does life ever get busy when you bring a baby home.
- Playdates. Last week’s Operation Homespeak ambush turned into a lovely playdate with the ladies, finding us strolling in the sunshine along the beach—six mommas, seven babies, two dogs and one husband—and it was so fantastic to finally put faces to the names of both the mums and the babes. Six months ago we were still tied to a ventilator with extreme oxygen and pressure requirements, and we were still unsure if Nyana would ever be able to enjoy the seawall. I can’t explain how awesome it was just to get out and do something as normal as a playdate, to finally see Nyana’s chariot on the seawall we’d told her so much about, lined up against the horizon with five of her buddies.
- NICU reunions. We made a few friends along our NICU adventure, and through it all we kept talking about finally hooking all the babies up on the outside. Last week, all our talk came to fruition and Nyana met her two suitors—Trajan and Benjamin—on the shores of English Bay. I’ve been in touch with these boys’ mums since they were busted out and I know they’re thrilled that we’re finally out, too. Even the one baby who won the gold star, the one we just weren’t able to outstay, came home about ten days ago and is now included on the list to visit soon. There were two more boys from our initial group in the NICU, and we’re in talks to get everyone on board sometime in the near future. I know you’re wondering and yes, that includes The Smugs. Maybe they’re not so smug on the outside.
- Mommy blog parties. This one was interesting. In case you missed it, the ladies of The Sisterhood nominated this blog for Vancouver’s best mommy blog, and we won! The grand prize was a $200 diaper bag and a party at a photo studio in town. I cleaned myself up and put on some heels and went out to meet the other 29 women nominated. I hadn’t been there long before I started to get the feeling that I’d crashed someone else’s party. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was nice to me, but it was obvious that many of these women followed each other’s blogs and all had connections out there in the blogosphere. I was asked what blogs I follow and what blog aggregator I use and what day of the week I set aside to comment on all the blogs I read? Um… no. I keep a story for my daughter. I accepted my prize and then watched as the door prizes were handed out—prizes with value more than my grand prize and gifted to predetermined people. The whole thing struck me as odd, though I’m not making any complaints about the title of Vancouver’s Best Mom Blog, a genuine leather Bugaboo diaper bag, or all of you who voted it a reality for us.
- Long lost family. It probably makes me a horrible person but I’ve never been very good at keeping in touch with extended family. During Nyana’s NICU adventure my Aunt Lorraine—an ordained minister in the United church—was one of our strongest supporters, and this weekend she was in town and we had an opportunity to meet up with Lorraine and proudly show off our Princess. We walked Nyana downtown in the pouring rain and we met up with three of my cousins and their families, and we waited for my aunt and uncle to get off of the cruise ship that was just docking. After quick hellos and hugs, we all headed across the street for a quick bite at a mall food court. I’m certain Nyana’s former medical team in the NICU is cringing as they read this. Strange people! Food court! Cruise ship! Hugs! It was great to reconnect with family and I can’t wait until our next meeting, sometime near Nyana’s first birthday, when my aunt Lorraine baptizes her.
- Occupational therapists. One of the joys of being a preemie is that you end up being just a little bit behind where you’re supposed to be. In Nyana’s case, she’s exactly where you would expect an 8-month old who was born three months early and spent seven months in hospital to be, which is about a month behind where a full term 5-month old would be. Our OT stopped by to visit us on Wednesday and observed Nyana’s reaction to oral stimulation—feeding orally via a syringe and a craftily sliced pacifier—and told me that Nyana was doing awesome. We’re not given the green light for solid foods quite yet, but we were given the go-ahead to start introducing a spoon. For two of Nyana’s feeds on Thursday, I sat her in her highchair and spoonfed her formula, letting her both taste the food and get to know the feel of a utensil in her mouth. We’re only about three weeks away from beginning solids, and given that she’s never had a bottle, getting her comfortable with a utensil now will make the oral feeding so much easier for us. I was in love with how normal it felt to sit Nyana in a high-chair and offer her a spoon.
- The pediatrician. My first impression of this man wasn’t great; he left Don and me waiting for more than an hour and a half past our scheduled appointment the first time we met him. But we’ve seen him three times now since we left the hospital and with each visit he tells us how great Nyana is doing. Thursday’s visit was a quick one; with no concerns from me and no concerns from him, we weighed her quickly and booked an appointment for a month from now. She weighed in at 6.8 kilos, just shy of 15 pounds, with a head circumference of 43 centimetres.
- The office. It was “take your baby to work day” today. We loaded up Nyana and Mr. Bipap and Mr. Oxygen and Mr. Foodpump and Mr. Sat Probe, and we took her in to Don’s office to meet the two hundred or so members of Nyana’s Army who have been so supportive through our adventure. It took us nearly three hours to cover all four floors his firm occupies, and Nyana made it through three floors and a bit of the fourth before finally giving in to sleep. Don and I endured repetitive praise of She’s beautiful! and Look at those adorable cheeks! and What gorgeous big blue eyes she has! and the hand sanitizer flowed freely as we let a select few hold her and snuggle in her deliciousness.
Our days are busy and our lives are full, and next week is a whirlwind of activity. The people from the Infant Development Program are coming on Monday—they’re the people who will provide physiotherapy and developmental support for Nyana, making sure that her corrected age catches up to her actual age as quickly as possible. Then on Tuesday we have our first meeting back at the hospital with the Home Trach & Vent Team—the respirology team that will continue where RT Awesome left off, helping us wean Nyana’s pressure settings and end her dependency on bipap. Wednesday is a free day with no appointments, which is good because my square for June 1st reads SHAW CABLE: BTWN 8-12. Waiting for the cable guy all morning. Awesome. Thursday morning finds us back at the hospital again, finally upsizing her g-tube and inserting a mic-key. Right now Nyana is still sporting the same 10″ tube protruding from her gut that was first inserted in March. We’re now eight weeks post-op and will be removing the long tube in favour of a low profile device that sits flush with the skin. We’re still uncertain as to whether the procedure will be simply day surgery or if her respiratory issues will be cause to keep her overnight for observation. Either way, this is our first real reminder that even though we’re home and loving life on the outside, we’re still tethered to the hospital.
I still marvel, after being home for a month, that we’re here and we’re doing it on our own. I had to refill Nyana’s prescriptions today at the pharmacy inside the hospital, and it was the oddest feeling, being back on those grounds that we practically called home for so long. While I waited for the script to be filled I grabbed a coffee from Second Cup and was sad to not recognize anyone behind the counter, or standing in line with me. And that was a nice reminder that despite our tie to the hospital, we really do live on the outside now.