We awoke to the sounds of a “drip drip drip” in the observation room, having spent the night on a pull out sofa next to an institutional-looking crib on wheels. It had been a night of little sleep as nurses bustled in and out to watch us be parents and put a crisp check mark next to the items on their list that we had to accomplish in order to take our daughter home. Her feeding tube pump had to be refilled multiple times during the night, heartbeat and breathing monitor wires adjusted and medications administered.
I signed my name with a flourish to form after form after form as the techs installed our carseat and filled our trunk with IV poles and pumps and stethoscopes and syringes all the things we would need to become nurses in addition to parents. The tiny tasks that made up our discharge accumulated to take up all the time in the day until finally, finally we said our goodbyes and walked out of the hospital with our six month old daughter for the very first time.
I took a deep breath as we stepped through the doors and watched with tears in my eyes as Scarlette adjusted hers to the sunlight and filled her lungs with her first taste of fresh air.
And this time when we drove away towards home and the sun set on the hospital behind us for the last time in one hundred and fifty six days, we took her with us.
We awoke to the sounds of a “rap rap rap” on the bedroom door of a little girl who has climbed out of her messily-slept in toddler bed. “Mommy! Daddy! Um, okay. Where are you?” she calls, her tiny voice drifting over the only monitor left in the house, the kind that all parents-to-be put on their baby registries, the kind that lets you peek on them in the middle of the night, the kind that isn’t attached to their chest with snaking wires to make sure their heart is still beating.
She climbs in bed with us and asks for milk, which she drinks from a pink straw cup decorated with monkeys, a far cry from the bright orange feeding tube that used to be the source of her meals. I cut up fruit for breakfast as she chatters and think of the days when we waited to see if the surgery had paralyzed her vocal cords.
I sign my name with a flourish to form after form after form as we prepare for preschool in the fall. “Mommy, I ring around the posies!” she tells me as she spins around in the fresh, spring air two years to the day that she took her first breath of it. “You did a great job!” I tell her as I buckle her into her carseat for our celebratory trip, because though this day isn’t circled on other calendars it is the most beautiful anniversary written on ours.
Today is the anniversary of the day that was long awaited, through years of infertility and the cut-short months of carrying a baby in my belly and all of one hundred and fifty six days spent in the NICU from the day we met her. Today is the day that we brought our daughter home.
“What are you singing, Scarlette?” I ask her as she quietly sings something I vaguely recognize to be Veggie Tales in the backseat. “Oh, um, because God is BIGGER” she tells me as she launches back into the melody.
Yes. Yes, He is.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright. We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.” – 1 Corinthians 13