It’s the time of year I spend a lot of time talking about Big Man, his premature birth, subsequent NICU stay, and his journey since. We have been walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies for ten years now. This year marks our 11th campaign. As I re-post and re-tell his story, post photos of him from those early days, watch his video montage, and once again spend a few months imploring friends and family to support our fundraising efforts, memories bubble to the surface. I stared at the computer this morning as a video from his third day of life, and then the first time I held him played, and I just cried.
There are so many random things I remember from that entire episode. I remember clearly the day I started bleeding. The sky was bright blue, with a few puffy clouds – a perfect late Summer day in Northern California. I remember the extreme level of calm in the massage therapist as I told him I was bleeding and started making phone calls. I don’t remember anything he said to me as he drove me down the hill in my car to the hospital less than a quarter mile from his office. I remembery trying to tell the ER receptionist why I was standing there. I remember the discussion with Spouse during my hour-long ultrasound whether we should find out the sex of our baby, and then deciding not to as that was somehow giving in something bad was going to happen. There was the middle-of-the-night ambulance ride to a hospital that could “handle a twenty-three weeker”, my first and only ambulance ride. I remember feeling fire flow through my veins when the magnesium sulfate IV was started. Spouse and my sister sat in the Labor & Delivery room with me, freezing because the air conditioning had been turned to high for me. I remember how sweet the night nurse was, coming in quietly, trying not to wake me until she absolutely had to. I remember the look on my Daddy’s face when he saw his grandbaby (not his first) on the ultrasound screen. I remember sleepily listening to baseball games on the radio. I remember the sun making its way across the windows in my room.
The night before he was born, I began to run a fever. I tried to hide it. I don’t know what I was thinking – I had vitals taken twice a shift, but I was sure I could hide the fact I was shivering uncontrollably. I was in agony that night, my hips, knees, and back screaming in pain. They kept taking more blood, taking my temperature, watching contractions on the monitor, checking the status of our baby, poking, keeping me awake. I knew it was bad, and I knew they were trying to not let me know how bad it was. I yelled at the doctor when he wanted to do an amnio. I remember staring at the Polaroid pictures they gave us of our son. I remember my most detested nurse bringing the breast pump in three hours after I’d given birth.
It took two rolling carts to get all the things we’d brought in over the three weeks I was in the hospital to the car. Spouse had to show me how to scrub up before going into the NICU. He knew how and where to find our son, I did not. I remember how I hated the tape on Big Man’s face, the tube in his throat, the thing the would strap to whatever extremity his main IV line was in to keep it straight. I hauled around the breast pump with bottles and cold bag, as well was syringes, needles and my antibiotics to fight the staph infection I had. I remember practically fighting with his nurse the day he was supposed to have his PICC line out because she wasn’t going to remove it.
I remember the night we brought him home – how amazing it was to change him, give him a bath, and hold him without any wires or machines attached. I was terrified he would stop breathing. I lay there, he in the cradle next to my bed, my hand on his chest, all night.
There’s so much more, so many things lodged in my heart. Little memories will surface. Big memories are never really far away. It is often the most random memories which do me in.