I’ve waited almost as long to write this post as I did to proudly exclaim We’re home! For seven long months, Don and I would walk into the NICU every day—two or three times a day sometimes—and walk past the I Was A Preemie Too! wall, a bulletin board plastered with smiling snapshots of other families’ successful journeys. How badly I wanted to proudly display Nyana’s photo up there; partly because I wanted to share Ny’s story with someone else experiencing it, but mostly because I knew that if we were displayed on that wall, we weren’t still confined within those walls.
Some of the displays on the wall were simple handwritten notes of thanks with a photo pinned to it; others were elaborately designed with heaps of photos of the days and weeks spent healing. Older children—teenagers, even—smiled out from their school photos, the details of their tiny and early arrivals penned on the back. These families, all of whom walked before us and none of whom I’d ever met, were such an inspiration to me during our darkest days, and I sat down to craft Nyana’s announcement this week.
Having been home for more than a month now, it really is surreal to realize how long ago it all feels. The NICU almost feels like a bad dream now—although the emotions are still quite fresh and are very real, the whole journey almost feels like a distant memory just out of reach. So in crafting her poster, looking back through all the photos we took, I was flooded with the same emotions I felt in the moment the photo was taken. My C:\Users\KPad\Pictures\Nyana folder has 4,200 files and takes up nearly 8 GB of space on my hard drive. The photos are sorted into eight folders by month, and starting in September, photo by photo, I relived the entire experience all over again. The first photos we ever took of her, so tiny and fragile in her first hours. A photo of me in my wheelchair, still wearing a hospital gown and still with an IV drip in my wrist, reaching into her solarium to stroke her tiny head. Five days later when I held her for the first time. Her PICC line coming out. Her first ‘bath’ in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Extubation. Christmas Day. Our first outside time. Four thousand photos, four thousand memories. And an emotion attached to each and every one of them.
Today the sun is shining and we’re preparing for a stroll in the sunshine with our babygirl. We’re doing normal family things and experiencing normal parenting dilemmas. Nyana and the NICU made me want to be a better person; reliving our experience made me remember all over again just how far we’ve come and made me grateful, yet again, that Nyana was a preemie, too.