When you stand in a NICU you try not to listen to other parents, at least that’s what I did. I tried not to make eye contact.
I knew they were there for the same reason I was, their child had been born early and though they had other obligations, they needed to be there to watch their child get better or huddle in the corner with their spouse, doctor or nurse to hear they wouldn’t be able to take their child home.
It’s been nearly five years since I stood in that room, the sound of alarms going off as a silent prayer comes from my lips, please don’t be her.
I remember the month she was in the hospital after her birth. The first few days were the worst. We were told her lungs were underdeveloped and that she may not make it.
I remember the feeling of absolute despair that day, it was the same I’d felt when my son came into the world. His little body was stronger than hers and he was out of the NICU and into the nursery in a matter of hours.
The memory of her being in the NICU is one of the strongest I have of my kids. The sound of the machines, the little tubes and wires coming from her skin, each doing something I didn’t know, I only wished for them to keep her alive so I could hold her.
When we took her home a month after her birth, she wasn’t near the weight of most infants and I worried constantly that she’d have to go back to the hospital for some reason.
She’s only been in the hospital once since then for MRSA, which scared the hell out of us, but she pulled through.
Every time I kiss her goodnight I think about that month where she was my little girl, but she wasn’t mine to take home.
When I see her face in the morning I think about the future and the things I want to protect her from and I worry I won’t be able to protect her from everything, but I’ll do my best to always be there for her as I tried to be when she was in the plastic box covered in tubes and wires.
She’s getting bigger, smarter and has a quick wit like me, but there are times I wish the world wasn’t there to change her. I like her curiosity and the way she asks about things.
I wait for the days of dates and I hope she knows I’ll walk her through the things she doesn’t understand and I’ll help her become the woman she wants to be.