Hospital life is a crazy life.
The pace of the people there is fast but the process is slow. The stakes are high. Reactions are quick and things can shift unexpectedly. Ironically, the hospital is the last place you’d want to go if you actually needed rest. There are rounds, vital checks, meds, meals, treatment protocols, social workers, dieticians, neurologists, therapists, nurses, doctors and various other people filtering in and out of the room continuously. Things begin to run together. Day blurs into night and night into day. It is a wild experience.
As I emerged from the hospital doors after my 10-hour shift with Oliver today, I recognized a familiar feeling that I experienced every single day of our NICCU stay…
Stepping outside those doors I feel the rest of the world all at once. The fresh air brushes my face, whispering a gentle reminder to take a deep breath- almost always the first one I’ve taken all day. Things feel untamed and so much bigger and freer out here. And there is the realization that I’ve been living in the hospital bubble where all that matters is what happens in our room. Survival is the goal. The focus on healing engulfs the entirety of life and anything outside of that becomes suddenly and obviously, unimportant. Petty grievances fall away and all available energy goes directly to supporting my loved one.
Life becomes very clear when it is simply a matter of that… Life. Or Death.
As I attempted to navigate my way to the freeway tonight I felt as if I were moving in slow motion, not quite caught up to speed of the life that other people had been living all day. In the hospital my body stays far more still than usual but my mind races constantly, answering questions, giving birth history, questioning the course of treatment, advocating for my baby and protecting him from unnecessary suffering. Hospital life demands an extremely high level of self-control but also the ability to be assertive and confident when necessary. It’s taken everything in me today to resist attack the respiratory therapist shoving a tube down into his lungs to deep suction his lungs or the phlebotomist who sticks him multiple times without success for a blood draw. Intellectually I know these things are to help him, but emotionally I can barely control the desire to claw apart these humans torturing my baby. I force my body to remain still as he is held down and try my best to remain present in mine.
Tonight I rolled down the windows as I struggled to achieve freeway pace and felt the cool air breath life back into my exhausted body, attempting to catch me back up with life on the outside.
Forty-five minutes later I was home and opening the door to my apartment, left untouched. Upon arrival from a hospital day there is always a distinctly undisturbed feel to home. No life has been lived there today. The laundry sits unfolded in the same place. The dishes are left undone. Life was on hold today.
My dog looks up at me with his big blue eyes and snuggles my leg, comforting both of us. I hug him and the tears begin to fall.
These days are exhausting. But we’ve lived through them before and we will live through them again. Tonight I’m just so thankful that my baby can breath easier. Although it’s hard to watch, the level of care has been excellent. We are blessed to have such amazing support all around us.