Written Feb 2013:
So a year has passed and I've spent a lot of time reflecting on February of last year. So many of you posted kind comments encouraging me, and reminding me that in the future that painful time would be a memory. It was hard to believe then that I might look back with some fondness of that month.
I found myself reliving the month day by day. The anniversary of the day of the call I looked up at the clock at 3:30 ironically I was doing another evaluation but was confident that I wouldn't be called away this year. The anniversary of the day we met her I worked that morning and that evening she melted down because of an ear infection that just wont go away. Since my days were like clock work for a month its strange I remember the dates and sometimes the times things happened. DH wanted to know how I knew we met Baby Girl at about 3:40. I dont recall the clock but I do recall D having supposed to have met us at 3:30 and she wasn't there. Debbie called D to find out if it was OK if we went in without her and she agreed. When we went in Baby Girl was sleeping. The nurse told us although it was a few minutes early we could wake her up to start to get her ready to eat. Well the next feeding would have been at 4 which meant that normally a nurse wouldn't have allowed me to wake her up until 3:45. My life for February was dictated by the times 10AM (unit opened), 12 (first feeding that I was there for), 4 (second feeding), 7:30 (unit closed for rounds and DH would expect a phone call), 8 (unit reopened and third and final feeding) and 9:40 (the time I had to leave to get to the train). Among several other dates/events I also remembered the 13th of February she had her one and only fit where she cried for hours and I had to hand her over to the nurse because I needed to leave the room to cry. I remembered the interstate compact date. Things like the smell of PB&J will always be associated with Philadelphia.
Positives of February
- I realized what it is like to be stuck in the hospital. Most people might not think of this as a positive but as someone that works in health care- I now understand my patients on a whole new level.
- I had Baby Girl to myself. Yes there were nurses telling me what to do and the birthfamily visited but most days she was all mine to care for.
- I know how strong my girl is. Her strong will still shines through and somedays I have to remind myself what a positive that fight she has in her is (the fight now is if the bib stays on during meals).
- I know how strong my marriage is. I can't imagine anyone else by my side during that month. Though he couldn't physically be there the whole month he kept me sane. He listened to me and supported to me.
- Friends. A friend of mine going thru her own struggle this February put it this way "I have friends like family" and I couldn't say it better. I dont have a lot of family in the area but our friends stepped up- cooked for us, shopped for us, provided accommodations for us, and loved us.
- Birthfamily- As hard as it was emotionally to interact with them I am happy that they had the time with Baby Girl and that Baby Girl has pictures of her time with them. I have tangible objects and stories I can share with Baby Girl. I think our relationship started in a place where I had no power which often is not the case with adoptions and often something birthparents are resentful of (that adoptive parents hold the power). Although I had some power (i.e. one day I told a doctor that he would NOT be giving her more medicine. Legally I had no right to do so and he could have ignored me but D was impressed that I would have the guts to tell a doctor what he would/would not do). That power was based on social standings and education- I had no fear of the doctor nor did I feel he was superior to me all I had to lose was him not listening to me. D and J did hold a great deal of power and could have chosen to not allow me to visit, but that wasn't in Baby Girls best interest. Being in a position of little power made me feel helpless but also shed light on D and J's perspective now. I could choose to never allow them contact but thats not what is in Baby Girls best interest. As her mom I have chosen to set limits but not unreasonable ones. While we were in the hospital he would often say he would visit one day then not show and then randomly show up another day- which he had the right to.
-Faith in humanity. There were so many things that happened that month that restored my faith in humanity. Rita a woman I never met took me in for a month. A bus driver identified my late night routine and rather than letting me walk alone in the dark three extra blocks started to drop me off at the end of my street. A nurse that was concerned about my route home sat me down and taught me the train system and found a safer way home for me. A smile from a stranger. A package of food sent with DH from my aunt who was worried about my weight. The housekeepers in the NICU that greeted me each morning and said good night to me each night. The nurse that did Baby Girls laundry without asking (probably because she knew I would have said no).
Things I mourn
- I wish she had not been born sick. It was temporary. She developmentally is on target in all areas at or above her age. She is vivacious and amazing but I still wish she had not had to endure the pain she suffered thru. Most parents talk about being able to hear different cries and understanding them. When she was first born the only cry I knew was a cry of pain. When I was buzzed into the NICU if she was crying I could identify hers but it was always the same- painful.
- Being able to hold my baby while she slept. Most of the nurses didn't like parents that held the baby while they slept. A friend of mine recently was telling me how her little boy preferred to sleep being held and I felt a twinge of sadness.
- The week between her birthday and the day we met her I often thought about how last year she was alone. After a month in the NICU I saw the nurses struggle to care for 3 babies at once. Each nurse only has two hands and sometimes that meant that a baby cried alone. D did visit that first week but only once a day and my guess only for the 4PM feeding.