Anytime a baby is brought home we as parents reorganize our priorities. Well, at least good parents who don’t have boatloads of money to spend on full-time care do. That deck we started staining gets put on the back burner. The friends we would like to go out with are given rain-checks. A trip we had been planning is put off until next year (and then the following year). The sleep we used to get at night comes at times that the baby is napping, if we aren’t busy catching up on another chore that had been put off. And updating a blog happens once every few months instead of every couple of days. That is life with a baby.
Our little one is catching up, too. Though still small for her chronological age, Avie is starting to catch up to her adjusted age. Yesterday she weighed 11 pounds, six and one half ounces-after delivering a poop that weighed at least three ounces. (I want to take this opportunity to thank the nurse at Pediatric Associates of Alexandria who could obviously see that my supply of wipes was quickly diminishing, for bringing me another package.) This gain of weight may not seem too substantial, but this is a baby that last month was just shy of nine pounds. She has gained almost three pounds in one month! HUGE!
Where is this weight coming from? Well, there have literally been days where she has stopped eating long enough for me to change her diaper and then started back up. I used to concern myself with being able to keep up with people I was chasing on the street, now I concern myself with keeping up with Avery’s eating. Oh, how my life has changed.
And as a family we have been able to start catching up with friends, somewhat. Robin and Avery visited with friends of ours from the NICU on Sunday. Their son was born exactly one month before Avie and due to them coming and going from the hospital at the same times, we became close. The pictures of the two babies playing together are priceless. But, I want to go on record as saying, Andrew, I’ve got my eye on you. You better treat my daughter right.
On Tuesday evening Robin told me that she wanted to go pick up a stroller that she had found on Craig’s List and that it was close to the hospital. As Avery was showing no signs of fading we decided to make it a family affair. Because we were going to be close to the hospital and the nurses that had cared for Avery at night have not been able to see her since she left, we decided that we would make an appearance. I called the NICU and spoke with one of the receptionists-the same one that so sternly warned me about signing in on the night that our girls were delivered-and with elation in her voice she told me that another miracle that I knew had gone home.
This little boy was born almost one month after our girls and he was at about the same gestational age, but he weighed only 13 ounces at birth. Read that again, thirteen-13-ounces. A few days after he was delivered we met these beautiful people who, despite all of the horror that they were facing, smiled and told us that they would be praying for us. One begins to feel humbled.
For nine months these wonderful parents never once became bitter and in fact the father recently sent me a text message apologizing for not being a good friend. They were constantly a source of support and love for anyone that ever met them. As the receptionist told me that he went home my voice broke and tears filled my eyes. She then told me that she was starting to cry and would have to let me go and that she would see us when we arrived.
At the hospital we caught up with the parking attendant who, on the first night allowed me to leave without paying, and for five following months would tell us his hopes that we would take our baby home soon. Then we caught up with a security guard that made fun of my pink cast and would ask us about our baby. Then we made our way up to the second floor. I have taken Avie back on a few occasions, but it was Robin’s first time back. I saw the five months of pain, followed by huge relief as if the emotions were painted over one another on her face.
Almost as soon as we arrived at the reception desk nurses came pouring out of two different rooms. Four of the nurses that had cared for Avie and one of the nurses that had cared for Sienna came to greet us. Everyone exclaimed how big she was and that they were all so glad to see her. The baby was passed around and cuddled. She enjoyed the love. But when she got to one particular nurse, Avery’s eyes fixed and she gently placed her hand on Michelle’s shoulder. “Auntie” Michelle cared for Avery, at night, more than any other one nurse and she was with her from the first week through her final days in the hospital and even made a song about Avery that she said she would have to now edit because Avery is no longer her “little friend” but rather she is now a “big friend”. Then, with a NICU to run, the nurses said their goodbyes and melted back into the rooms where they save babies on a daily basis. I smiled, knowing that each one of them gives their all to every single baby that they care for and that we are lucky to have had them caring for our girls.
It was good to catch up, it was good to see the nurses, receptionists, parking attendant, security guard, and cleaning lady. It was good to talk to my friend and congratulate him on taking his miracle son home. It was good to see pictures on Avie and Andrew playing together. It was good to hear the nurses talking about how big Avie has gotten. And it has been great to see Avie gaining weight and doing new things. It has been great to watch her catch up. It is great to be her father.
Now, about that deck that I began staining…