Never apart

We laced our hands together at bedtime and she asked, as she does so often, about “the baby hospital.”

Where was your bed Mommy? Did you only sleep when I sleeped?

I realized something I never had before.

She thought I never left.

Those agonizing months of saying goodnight to my babies in the NICU and driving home, only to get up the next morning and make the drive to see them again, she had no idea.

I sat day after day feeling helpless and slightly delusional, not quite sure that my babies would ever come home. Wondering if that one hour sitting in front of their incubators, folding and refolding my empty hands, was not actually five hours, or ten or two days.

Every motherly task I was given felt like a gift. As I bathed them or changed their bandages or started their next feed I hoped that I could make up for this, all of this. I hoped our proximity for those short moments could make up for our distance during the following hours.

Near the end of our NICU stay I thought I might go mad with the longing to bring them home. I was as desperate for them to be home as I had been for them to survive in the early days after their birth.

I have thought of those days so often as I struggle to drop my kids off for even an hour away and I’m the first to pick them up from anywhere I manage to drop them off. They may climb walls and scale the stairs and challenge the window glass with their noise but I like them here. I like them home.

I tried to explain to my daughter that I didn’t stay at “the baby hospital” as she did. I had to come and go but I was with her every minute I could be, but she didn’t understand.

There was never a moment in her world when I wasn’t there.

Just as I always hoped it would be.

McKenna and mom in NICU

A sweet friend of mine has a baby in the NICU with a story very similar to McKenna’s, they are selling hair bows on Etsy to help pay for her care. You can click here to buy one or on the image in my sidebar.

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  1. says

    I can’t even imagine. I bet leaving was the hardest thing to do at the end of every visit. Such a sweet conversation. xoxo

    Thinking of your friend with love.
    Tonya recently posted..Unwavering

  2. says

    Jessica…Even when I hear NICU type monitors on television, my bp goes up. Having had three NICU babies I can completely relate to what you are saying. In fact, until I read your post, I’d never really thought about how much I hate it when one of my kids is out of my house for the night. I think you hit the nail on the head.

    Thoughtful post, as usual!

  3. says

    Oh what a sweet conversation. I have tried to explain to Jessica that I left her, that she used to live in the hospital with the doctors and nurses. I tell her that Daddy and I called the hospital every night to ask how she was getting. But I don’t think she believes me!

    I like my children home too. If I’m honest. Even when I’m tired and they would probably have more fun and be better looked after by somebody less exhausted and grouchy. I like them home. Because it felt like a very long wait to get them here.

    Thank you for this post.
    Catherine W recently posted..Endless iterations of n-1 where n = 2, 3, 4, 5 . . . .

  4. says

    It’s like you are in my head. Thank you for writing it. My last 2 babies spent 11 weeks in NICU and although I had to go home every night to my other 2 children I felt guilt for leaving them behind. I often look at them doing something annoying and think about what life would be like if they weren’t here. Let’s just say that they don’t annoy me very much. And, like you guys, our NICU stay was almost 5 years ago too.
    Love your blog!
    Tiffany recently posted..I Can Do It

  5. says

    My son was in the NICU for 4 days. The hardest part was being discharged from the hospital without him. How do you go home without your baby? That baby that’s been with you everywhere you’ve gone for the last 8 months? I can’t imagine how hard it must be to have an extended stay. Thank you for writing this! It’s just beautiful.
    Brandy recently posted..Goals Keep Me Sane

  6. says

    Beautiful imagery, as always, Jessica. I never had a baby in the NICU, but your writing enables me to grasp a shred of what that must feel like for so many mothers who suffer through it. I am praying for your friend’s baby, an for all families going through this. What a tough row to hoe.

  7. says

    I never wanted to leave the NICU. I begged not to be discharged from the hospital so that I could remain under the same roof as Jake. My begging did not work so I ended up going back and forth from home to the NICU. Sometimes I wonder how anyone ever got me to leave his side. Sending hugs and hope. Going to check out the bows now. xo
    Lanie recently posted..Stuff

    • says

      Mine too, I always hold my breath a little when the kids ask about their NICU days because I’m never sure if it’s going to be something I can handle emotionally but this time it was such a sweet conversation.

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