When little feels in my control or comfortable or predictable, I rely on little routines for a sense of footing. For my family and friends, my morning routine at home is no secret or surprise: wake, brush my teeth, make a cup of tea (or two) and sit in “my” chair, and read. Every day. Clockwork. It is a grounding for me. A sprouting of hope for the 18 hours to come. Thank You, for life.
Here in Wichita my routine depends on Eden’s, whose schedule depends on a lot of other factors. Eden shares a room with two other babies who also have family visiting. For the nurse to be able to provide care for each baby, the schedule keeping is fastidious. Every three hours, Eden is assessed, diaper changed, temperature taken. These assessments are the windows of time for me to make myself part of her day. As the smallest of disruptions can be exhausting for premature babies, and they need all the energy they can save for growing, the hospital wants to minimize disruptions between these windows. So each day I go to Eden around 7:45 am, check her temperature, change her diaper, and then pull her in close for skin-to-skin time for the next three hours until 11:00 am, when I check her temperature again, change her diaper. Then I leave and let her rest. Then I come back at 1:45 pm and do the same from 2-5 pm. And then again at 8 pm. During our time together I read to her, sometimes I sing if not too many people are around, I talk to her about things, I breathe with her. These are my days. Thank You, for life.
A few hours ago, as I sat with Eden snuggled up close, a blanket draped behind her and my hands holding her form, I looked down and noticed her body making a bulge under the blanket. My baby bump. There are moments that the realization hits me afresh: I’m not adopting anymore; I’m a mother. This was one. The longed for baby bump, the evidence of life growing, the promise of a daughter (or son) are now mine. It was a moment of emotion, not surprising. Tears and constricted throat. I’m holding my daughter! Thank You, for life.
In the last seven days, I have heard of a friend giving birth to a daughter, another discover she is pregnant, one is enduring a miscarriage and yet another continuing into years of infertility. Eden, who wasn’t due to be born until the first week of December, has a birth mom whom we’ve been told is pregnant again. I’ve only been in the NICU/Special Care for just under two weeks, yet I have already seen babies come and get to go home, an occasion to celebrate for sure. Birth, due dates, infertility (another post in and of itself), death, and life… The creation of souls is a mysterious thing. “Such a thing is too wonderful for me. It is too high. I cannot attain it.” I am left only with the following invocation, response, mantra, benediction:
Thank You, for life.