Sunday, March 14, 2010


A few days ago, I wrote about Rhys and Quin's time in the NICU. It's not the first time I've written about it, but it is the first time that I really went there and wrote about it. On some subconscious level, I've played through snippets of our NICU days a thousand times. The scene that plays most often is us leaving the hospital for the night. Tucking the thin flannel hospital blankets around my tiny babies and leaning in to kiss their faces. Whispering how much I loved them into their sweet and soft little ears. Begging them to be okay. To grow. To understand why, when they woke up that night, I wouldn't be there to scoop them up into my arms.

It's easy to get lost in the right now. And in most ways, what a wonderful place to be lost. My babies are walking. I watch them take these beautiful shaky steps. When they hear music, they immediately start to dance. I sit in awe and just stare at them - their pureness - just experiencing and reacting with wonder and honesty and joy. When they're not fighting over every toy they own, they fall into the moment and lean their heads together, laughing from the core with wild abandon.

All of this makes it easy not to look back. Easy to carefully tiptoe around when it falls across my path. And then I went there. And I wrote it.

I cried.

The details are sharper than knives. I remember the sandy winter grit on the NICU floor. The white board on the wall introducing my babies: "Hi. I'm Quin. Today I weigh 5lbs 1oz." "Hi. I'm Rhys. Today I weigh 5lbs. 6oz." Little dry-erase stars carefully decorating the empty space. Reminding us that this is happy. The incessantly beeping machines. The computer printouts the doctors showed me, neatly charting the dates and times when my babies had momentarily stopped breathing. The nurse who clucked at me, "don't worry dear. We'll get them as high functioning as we can. Easter Seals will work with them." The day I found out that Quin had several unusual cysts on his brain. Sitting alone in the rocking chair that day, holding him and crying. Big salty tears falling on my little sleeping baby. The withdrawal babies down the hall, crying in agony. Trips to the family room. Peeling back the foil lids on plastic containers of cranberry juice and chocolate milk. Believing I would never feel nourished again. Bringing Rhys home. Leaving Quin behind.

In and out of days, I know all of this happened. I thought I had scars.

A scar happens after the flesh heals and the scab falls off.

I wrote it. Hastily and quickly. Without caution. In my haste I caught my scab on the words. It ripped off.

Underneath, to my surprise, is open and raw.

I'm bleeding and bleeding and bleeding.


Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but... *hugs*

freckletree. said...

is it the mono?

or just a simple broken mommy heart?

love love love you and your writing.

i'd call, but i promised not to.

Daryl said...

Here's the best part to remember .. they dont know this, they only know you are with them now, loving them, holding them now. I say this not as consolation. I say it because its true. Your pain will be with you to the day you die ... that scab wont ever fall off w/o leaving an open wound ... but those happy dancing walking soon talking babies wont ... and that is something to take comfort in.

sarah said...

I am sure all of your last several posts have been hard. And have brought a lot of things back that you don't want to dwell on. Just know your posts have been moving. They have been so helpful.

I posted today on what breastfeeding means to me. I don't think I did it is well as you did, but I wanted to do my part to say BF is important and shouldnt be hidden.

The Janowski Family said...

The things we treasure the most often were the hardest to attain. Nothing could be truer for you. As horrifying as those times were, they were all part of what you had to go through to get to where you are. They made you grow. They made you stronger. They made you become even more of an advocate for those little boys than you ever knew you could be. Don't try to hide from those memories, because they are important.

Heather said...

Such a beautiful heart wrenching post, I almost couldn't read it. It must be hard to think back over these things but it probably also help to write about it and get it out. At least for me that is true.

Mama Campbell said...

Though my experiences aren't the same, I can relate to how you're feeling when I look back on my daughter's NICU stay for the first weeks of her life. I washed my hands at the doctors the other day & they used the same soap we had to scrub down with and just the scent of it brought memories flooding back. Just from some antibacterial soap! Don't get me started on the beeps from an incubator on a tv show. I still can't watch shows with preemies in the hospital without bawling my eyes out after being reminded of all we experienced there. All NICU parents have this bond whether or not they want it & I'm told it makes us stronger as parents. It makes us all the more aware of how precious life truly is & thankful for each little thing our miracle babies accomplish. It's good to feel these feelings sometimes, but also to share them with others. **hugs**