When Big Man was in the NICU, we were encouraged to bring items from home and make his space his own. A stuffed frog went with him on day one, to quickly be followed by a few other stuffed animals. There was a U of A pennant, a photo in a frame of his awesome parents, and, when he was able to tolerate the stimulation, a boom box to play classical and lullaby cd’s. Every single item had a sticker on it identifying it as belonging to him so that when he was moved, all his stuff went with him. That sticker had his name, his doctor’s name, our names, and his birth date. When we came home, most of the stickers were easily removed. A few we just forgot about.
We put new flooring in our bedroom a couple months ago, so our room was essentially torn apart. I was putting it back together the other day, moving things around. I went to put one of our engagement photos back on the book shelf, and on the back of the frame was that sticker. I stopped, taken immediately back to our NICU days. I remembered long days of staring at him through the plastic walls of his isolette. I recalled the parking garage, and the particular space I always sought on the top floor. I could almost taste the turkey sandwich and chips I tended to eat in the cafeteria. I could almost feel the sunlight warming through the window of the hospital wall. I could smell the soap we used to scrub in. I could hear the sound of the elevator I took to the third floor every day. I could clearly see the board where all the magnet were to show where each baby was on any particular day. And I could clearly hear all the beeps and whooshes of the machines keeping my son alive and monitored.
Amazing how one small 2 x 2 inch sticker could bring all that back. That NICU was our entire world for 93 days. Some days, I can forget about it entirely. But then something will happen…a sound, a smell, a sticker….and I’m right back there.
I was reminded of a post I wrote two years ago by my blogging buddy Trista over at Domesticated Momster . It was titled Inspiration and the second paragraph describes what we faced on a daily basis, and why little things like a sticker take me back. Thanks, Trista, for sharing my post. Any NICU time changes you, whether it be a day, a week, or months long. Those memories surface at any given moment. Scars can be ripped wide open, those days relived. And you never really know what’s going to bring it all back.