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NICU reunion

We watched the new series on PBS last night, Call the Midwife, about nurses delivering babies in 1950's Britain...the pilot has a nice medical focus on the new advances of the day for keeping premature babies alive. It was a message that hit home.

In a different time, our daughter wouldn't be here. She certainly had her ups and downs as a preemie, but there was rarely a doubt in my mind that she was in any critical danger. Certainly very sick, but modern science is amazing. Babies born far sicker, earlier, and smaller than our Leda survive to healthy childhoods.

But still, the ordeal of being in the NICU for a month was an experience that we would neither wish on anyone nor find easy to explain. Sure, I'm guessing you are imagining the struggles if you haven't gone through it yourself, but it's actually the little things that get to you. It's not your sick child, it's the parking garage or the buzzing into and out of the unit. It's the long walk down the hallway to the elevator multiple times a day. To say nothing of having to constantly re-establish communication with a string of new staff when all you want to be is at home curled up in the chair with your baby while watching bad tv. You want to change a diaper in your own house. You want to feed her on your own pillows. Without tubes and wires coming from everywhere.

So yesterday, for Fall Fest, we met up with our isolette neighbors who live in our same village. Our babies were born at nearly the same time, the same weight, and had nearly the same stay in the NICU despite different problems.

And while our little Leda is a chubby cutie, theirs isn't wearing 18 month clothes at 12 months because she's huge. It's because she's a cute little beanpole. Tall, skinny, straight head of hair. Doing well.

We shared parenting stories about both the preemies and our son. The mom even offered to send us the info about the playgroup they go to. It was just great, however, to see these two smiling, laughing, perfectly healthy little girls who--at one point--had been tiny, palm-sized wonders of skin and bone.

5 pounds. They lift toys that are heavier than that now.

We're not the type of family, considering our horrible feelings towards the hospital, who will end up at one of those NICU picnics where all the preemie families get together and the doctors and nurses come gush over how wonderful a patient we were. They essentially let Leda go, we theorize, because we were such pains in the ass. No happy feelings about NICU.

But we will take a few happy feelings over our NICU buddies. Such a sweet family. It's nice to have something--besides Leda, of course--come out of that horrible time.

I can't believe our little alarm-wired delicate newborn is almost a year old. She's big, she's full of personality, she's completely healthy...and she loves to crinkle up paper.