Let’s reschedule the pediatrician’s appointment, I said to K, struggling to open my eyes just one day home from the hospital. I’m sure all is well, and we can do the weight check at the end of the week. K insisted we keep the appointment, so we went.
All was not well.
Jaundice. Not just he’s a touch yellow, make sure he gets some sun levels. Serious levels. So serious we had to rush to the ER to admit him at our local children’s hospital. For three days. Three days with zero sleep while recovering from the delivery itself. Three days in a cramped hospital room requiring Cirque du Soleil manuevering to get from one spot to the next. Three days pumping around the clock so you could keep him under the lights as long as possible. Three days of an unspeakably rude lactation consultant who asked if you loved this child less because you considered a formula feed so you could get some rest. Three days away from our firstborn. Three days watching your newborn getting pricked by needles and IVs and lying naked and small under fluorescent blue lights and waiting on insanely slow doctors and nurses to deliver results and predictions of when things would get better. Three days worrying yourself sick as the numbers trickled down slower than the doctors promised and knowing that you can ring the nurse button or wring the doctor’s neck for their vague answers, but that you lack utter and complete control regarding the one thing you want complete dominion over.
So you turn to the One who has complete dominion and you remind yourself of the Promise– He is closer to me than my jugular. And surely He is just this close to my son. And you try to find the virtue they call patience and let this be enough. You try.
I know parents who have sat bedside for months in the NICU. I know parents who walked into hospitals with babies and walked out without. During my legal practice days, I represented children at this very hospital. I know how much worse it could have been. It wasn’t three weeks. It wasn’t three months. It was three days. And yet, those three days were three lifetimes in the seven circles of hell. Perhaps it was the complete lack of sleep [they do torture prisoners in this very manner for a reason] but I never felt so completely broken as I did during those three days. And I realized you can feel bad for someones difficult circumstances but you will never know their pain until you are in the distant orbit of their shoes.
We’re home now. Slowly, things are normalizing. Grandparents and kind husbands taking night shifts are helping me catch up on sleep and feel remotely human again. But I still feel shaken. Vulnerable. Like a survivor of something though what that is, I cannot say. I’m thankful doctors recognized an issue I couldn’t see. I’m thankful it was a short stay in the objective sense of the word. And once this event becomes distant memory, which I hope is soon, I hope that what will linger is the gratitude for my ordinary life filled with dirty diapers, midnight wake up calls, and a house that is never truly fully clean thanks to messy naughty healthy and happy little boys. Ameen.