Lucky, and Tired
Strange, long week. Started out with us kind of despondent about our baby’s slower pace of progress, frustration about lack of continuity with nurses, worry about something going on that the doctors were missing.
But then, all of a sudden — like a switch turned on — he’s had six consecutive great days, gaining weight, able to lower his oxygen support, fewer and fewer events on the monitor, all moving in the right direction, and quickly. So, all in all, it’s been a very good week. We’re exhausted, but we’re not on alert in the same way we felt like we had to be a week ago.
We went to our 4-year-old’s school Chanukah party on Tuesday. It’s feels like this limbo we’re in, we’re there with our son — and, alone in the hospital, our other son, two separate worlds, two separate lives. My wife feels like she has two families. I don’t feel it as acutely because I’ve been home most of the week with a cold that’s barely a cold but even a nothing cold, I can’t take the risk of spreading it. And at least this way our 4-year-old gets one of us.
To me it feels less like having two families than like the baby isn’t real yet. I’ve held him, talked to him, watched him, but he still doesn’t feel like mine. My 4-year-old and I were in Trader Joe’s and the cashier gave him a strip of stickers — “he can share them with his siblings,” the cashier said. “Does he have siblings?” I said no before I could catch myself. My brain hasn’t absorbed the news yet.
Until this week — as things have stabilized, headed in the right direction, as we can start to imagine him coming home, in weeks rather than months — I think I’ve probably been keeping myself from feeling too close — my cold hasn’t helped, but it’s more than that. We got my wife’s placenta pathology back this week and the doctor confirmed what we’d understood to be the case since he was born — he came very, very close to not being born at all. Had my wife’s scan been a little later, even the next day — we were heading exceedingly quickly toward a situation incompatible with a healthy baby, this was a stillbirth in progress that they happened to catch. We got very lucky.
I suppose that makes it easier — that this impossible journey is huge luck, compared to the alternative of what was going to be. It makes it easier to feel grateful for it, harder to complain, harder to wallow, harder to feel bad for ourselves. He survived. We are lucky. He is doing well. We are lucky. He will be home soon. We are lucky. We are also tired.