Tuesday, April 22, 2014
The One Puzzle Piece
Every day when your mother and I come to stay with you, the path to the NICU leads us through the waiting room of labor and delivery and past the full term nursery. Being in and out of the NICU numerous times a day has exposed us to the story of childbirth for many months now. Every time we come in and out, we see little snapshots of that story. A baby slowly making its way toward postpartum in a wheeled bassinet. A pregnant woman pacing the hallway. Family members camped out in the waiting room, their faces some mix of suspense and boredom.
It's as though the story of childbirth has been chopped up into tiny little puzzle pieces. Stick around long enough, and you see that story reassembled scores of times from a thousand different lives.
Sadly, we won't ever experience that story for ourselves because there is only one piece we share in common with it: when at last we will take you home And even that one piece seems like something that belongs in some other life, not ours.
I've lost count of the number of families I've seen disembarking the hospital, baby carrier in arm. For the first 2 months after you were born, I'd just look at them blankly as they left, unable to imagine that we'd one day be doing the same. The evidence of our first two months in the hospital shouts otherwise. Pregnant women come in every day and leave the next with a baby. For the longest time, whenever I walked by the full term nursery, I glance across the cribs filled with those full term behemoths. Creatures that appear as though they belong to some entirely different species of life form. Then I'd move on to the NICU to hold your tiny little body. How could we possibly have an ending like all the other parents, I wondered, having come from such a different place? To me, it seemed far more appropriate that the three of us would board a rocket ship upon your discharge and blast away for some life in deep space, as though your NICU stay was just the beginning of our high tech journey.
But now? We come to the hospital every day knowing that, perhaps, we might be leaving with a baby the next. When I walk by the full term nursery and then come to visit you, those babies don't look very different than you, anymore. I'm beginning to feel as though that one little puzzle piece might snap into our lives, after all.