6 and Counting

It was a warm September day, even for Las Vegas.

I’d taken the day off so I could take my wife to her fetal monitoring appointment.

I’d missed all of them to that point because of work and I refused to miss that one.

We were a little more than a month from our due date. Our daughter was scheduled to arrive October 27th, but things changed that day.

I’d dropped our son off at Kindergarten and was able to sit with my wife for a few hours before we had to be at the appointment.

I don’t remember what we talked about, only that she looked beautiful.

We left the house a early because we didn’t want to be late and we both commented on how warm it was.

Once they hooked her up to the machine there was a flurry of activity around us, which got us in a panic.

We’d already had a miscarriage and other complications prior to this pregnancy and were fearful of anything going wrong.

The doctor came in and told us, “Your baby’s heartbeat is low and there’s little fluid in there with her. We’re sending you to hospital. You’re having her today.”

It was 6 weeks from our due date and I immediately called my mom to make sure she could get our son from school.

We arrived at the hospital, the Vegas sun beating down, my wife sweating, my stressing and they wheeled her up to the maternity ward.

My mom was able to get our son, and they arrived a while later.

My wife was hooked up, given her epidural we were ready to roll, then our little girl’s heart rate began to drop.

We were sent in for an emergency C-Section, which scared the hell out of both of us.

They started her and told me not to film them doing the surgery, which if you’ve never seen a C-Section, it’s surgery.

They pulled our girl out, she screamed, but it was labored.

Walking across the delivery/operating room, they were poking and prodding her and took her out of the room quickly.

When we got back to my wife’s room, they told us the bad news.

Our little girl’s lungs weren’t fully developed and they’d be watching her closely.

That night was one of the hardest nights I’ve had as a parent.

I couldn’t sleep and our little girl was in the Neonatal Infant Care Unit or N.I.C.U., a place she’d be staying for the next month.

Over the following month we watched our little girl fight with the feroctiy of grizzly, which is why I call her my little bear.

We were finally able to take her home from the hospital on her due date.

She was and is a strong willed little girl.

Today she turns six and is every bit the strong little bear she was in the hospital.

Happy Birthday my little bear.

When you Stand in a NICU…

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.

Writing the each and every

Books Stacked to the ceiling in New Orleans book shop.

Books Stacked to the ceiling in New Orleans book shop.

The window is cracked,  there’s a soft breeze across the desert and the blue skies stand out against a cloudless sky.

I watch my kids run through the room,  their clothes catching the breeze, my daughter’s cape flapping,  my son’s mask pressed tightly to his face.

My superheroes tear up the house as they chase each other.

Watching I’m reminded of the things I focus on too much, and the things I must focus on more.

We happen to think about our writing, at least as early writers, as horrible.

The reason we think this way is mostly because it is, at least for most of us, I mean we’re not all genius level writers, we have to learn to write well.

The thing about watching my kids play on a daily basis, they do their playing oblivious to the world around them.

This is what new writers usually don’t do.

They don’t write and ignore the world, they may get their writing time in, but they don’t lock themselves away like the more experienced writers.

The wind begins to die down, my kids are preparing for lunch, or dinner, I’m not sure as the day has moved by faster than normal, and in between the hours of my writing schedule; I see their asking for daddy to play.

I skirt away from the desk to play with them, as they beg me to get away from my writing.

I stop them, “I have a few hundred words to go. After I’m done, I promise.” I tell them.

After the hundred words, I set aside the laptop, rush downstairs as they sit on the couch, eager for a trip to the park.

Another sunset comes, we head back to the house, my wife is getting started on dinner, I pitch in, cutting the chicken, as I learned in a meat store in my late teens, and sit down as the I put music on the radio.

It’s one of my favorite days, but it’s still a writing day.

They’re finally asleep, my wife is doing the dishes, I have my laptop out again to get my notes from the day added to my laptop.

I finish and sit with my wife for an hour watching Supernatural.