This morning at 5:00 am while many people were waking up to go shopping or waiting in line to bust through doors for the hottest items on their shopping lists, Robin and I were waking up to go to the hospital. Unfortunately we’ve been in this same spot too many times in the lifetime of Avery, but even more unfortunate for me I have had a fever off and on for the past week and therefore was not able to go into the hospital. Robin went and told me to stay home and try to rest so that I can get better. Obviously there was no resting as I waited with my phone next to me.
During this time I thought back to all of the other times that we have been through this torturous waiting game. The time that resounds with me the most, though, is the most recent. During the most recent eye surgery that Avery had, almost two weeks ago, we were waiting in a different hospital than we had for all of the others. At Georgetown Hospital there is actually a family lounge and we had been led there while Avery went off to surgery. The lounge was nothing too fancy, just some couches, lockers, a refrigerator and some games for children, but it was a nice place for parents to wait and escape the beeps of the NICU. While we were there I noticed a framed picture on the wall and felt drawn to look closer.
After reading the poem that was in the frame and studying the picture I felt as though the person that wrote it had been reading my thoughts, only she had been reading my thoughts 16 years before I had them. The picture was of parents holding their twins that were born in 1994. Sadly one of them was lost after only a few short days, but thankfully the other is now a healthly young man. That evening I did research on the author of the poem and was able to contact her and tell her what it meant to us and that we were thankful for them raising money to have a family lounge built. I also asked her permission to post the poem on this site. I feel honored that she agreed. I committed the poem to my now failing memory and its words have flashed into my mind over and over since then and more today than any other time since I read it.
They say we’re NICU Parents
They say I’m your mother. But how can that be? I can’t lift you to my breast and nurse you.
You’re saving your milk until I can drink. Your love nourishes me now.
I can’t take you out for a stroll. I can’t show you the beautiful world outside your isolette.
You teach me something new each day. I see the beauty of the world in your eyes.
I can’t hold you in my arms. I can’t kiss your cheek or whisper in your ear. How can I be your mother?
I’m holding your finger with my tiny hand. The warmth of your presence soothes me.
They say I’m your father. But how can that be? I can’t give you my heart or kidneys to make you better.
I see you watching my monitors and studying my chart. You’ve learned so much to help me heal.
I can’t rock you to sleep or tuck you in. I can’t hold you on my lap and tell you a bed-time story.
You read to me and call my name. The sound of your voice makes me stronger.
I can’t fly you over my head. I can’t tickle you or fill your room with toys. How can I be your father?
I love the musical parrot you gave me. Do you see how my oxygen sat rises when you play it?
They say we’re your parents. But how can that be? All we can do is pray. All we can do is stay by your side. All we can do–is love you.
Thank you for being such good parents.
Thank you again, Mari, for allowing me to post this. It really does capture just how we have felt for the past months.
At about 9:00 am the call that I had been waiting for came. Robin told me that the doctor had come out and told her that Avie’s procedure was done and that everything went well. This is supposed to be the final procedure that she will need. I am hopeful that is the case. She has been through more than any baby should have to go through and she has powered on. This Thanksgiving I was most thankful for the technology that has given Avery a viable chance at life and for the doctors and nurses that are applying that technology.