My sweet little baby girl is 11 months old today. It’s hard to believe she’ll be ONE in a month!
She is such a joy. She loves to snuggle. She thinks her siblings’ antics are hilarious. She crawls everywhere and gets into everything. She scavenges for crumbs. I think she deliberately throws Cheerios and the like on the floor to eat later. We’re starting to see more of her personality shine through. She has a streak of mischief and a flair for drama. I think we may have our hands full with this one!
Today is full of nostalgia and reflection. Month-iversaries often are, but today it’s a bit more than usual.
One year ago, I had no idea my sweet baby would be overdue. Only by one day, but I fully expected an early baby because her older siblings were born on their due dates (x2) or 5-6 days early. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the possibility of her being late. But she was. I think she wanted to share a birthday with me, and she does.
She is by far the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten. Last year, my husband kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday. My reply? “I just want to not be pregnant anymore.” I got my wish!
But having her sent to the NICU a few minutes after birth was the worst birthday present I’ve ever gotten. She passed meconium prior to birth and it got in her lungs. It resulted in a 10 day stay in the NICU.
Those were the 10 longest days of my life. We knew she’d be fine, that she’d be healthy and come home when she was ready, but we still felt every emotion.
As our joint birthday approaches, I find myself reflecting on those experiences. I’m grateful to be past them. NICU is hard. But words cannot express how grateful I am for the amazing nurses and doctors who took such great care of my baby.
Sadly, not all babies get to go home. At least not in the earthly sense. During her last night in the NICU, I heard tragedy strike another family. I was pumping behind our curtain since little miss wouldn’t wake up to eat and it was nearly the time they close for shift change. Her nurse told me she needed to go help with a new baby who was in bad shape. Some minutes later – time is surreal in the NICU – I heard a nurse briskly walking by. But it wasn’t just a simple walk from one end of the room to the other. She released a telling sigh. And I knew.
Then, I heard screaming and wailing from the hall. And I knew. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of this family – especially this mother. How much did she know, in that moment? My heart broke for her, knowing she had a difficult painful road ahead.
Then, the NICU doorbell rang over and over as this grieving family flooded in to see their lost baby. As I began to put the pump away, I heard a woman (possibly the grandma) say, “we never even got to play with her.” And I knew.
I waited till the NICU quieted down; I could not intrude on this very raw, very personal grief. And after witnessing all of this, it was extra hard to leave my sweet baby girl behind. It was hard to leave every night, but more so on this last night.
I was somber and subdued on the way home. I felt conflicted. I knew I should be ecstatic that my baby would go home in the morning, but all I could think about was the mother who lost her sweet baby.
I often think about her. I pray for her. I don’t know anything about her. I never saw anything – everything I witnessed was by sound. I don’t know what she believes. I don’t know if this was her first baby or her fifth. I don’t know what her life is like. But I know it was forever altered that night. I pray she finds peace. I hope she found strength. I know it will be hard for her as we approach the anniversary of the day she lost her baby. Her daughter’s birthday should be a joyful occasion; instead, it will be an annual reminder of the worst moment of her life. And I pray. She doesn’t know I was there, doesn’t know I’m praying for her. But I was. And I am.
This…went somewhere completely different than I expected. I had other things I meant to write, but they will have to wait. To add them now wouldn’t feel right, as if it would somehow cheapen these deep moments. So, another entry for another time.