Tuesday was one of those days full of NICU irony for me. As my head hit the pillow that night I couldn't help but shake my head a bit.
Last week I was asked to attend the last NNICU Family Advisory Council meeting as a guest and prospective volunteer. The council is made up of parents, administrators, doctors and nurses and serves to organize and support family centered initiatives for the NNICU.
I was sure to leave myself plenty of time to navigate traffic on my way to New Haven because rushing to the hospital reminds me just a little too much of those days where I would run (literally and figuratively) from work to the NICU in time to make it to Virginia's 6pm feeding and care time. More often than not I was that crazy parent that would run from the parking garage over the pedestrian bridge through the atrium and then frantically wait for the elevator up to the 4th floor. I now give myself lots of extra time for any appointments or meetings at the hospital - its just better for my mental health ;)
As I pulled into the garage and started to navigate the steep curve towards the ticket machine the satellite radio in my car regained its signal and slowly I heard the strum of a guitar and a special song. "Home" played as I made the all too familiar turns through the garage until I finally found a spot in my preferred area on the 6th floor. Hundreds and hundreds of trips through that garage and the anticipation of finding the right spot still sits deep inside of me. The spot had to have quick access to the elevators but I also preferred to be at the outside wall so that I could have my regular ugly cry before driving home for the night. I did not let myself cry in the hospital so that parking space was critical. There were no tears on Tuesday, just a smile over the irony.
From the garage I made my way down the the 2nd floor pedestrian bridge. I always see familar faces at the hospital. Most don't remember me in the way that I remember them but today was different. The resident that was running room 5 at the end of Virginia's stay approached, smiled and immediately asked "How is Virginia?" I was surprised that he recognized me over a year later and even more shocked that he remembered Virginia's name until I remembered the hell that both Virginia and moreso Heath and I gave him that month. It was an incredibly frustrating and scary time for us and this particular resident dealt with endless amounts of questions and questioning. After showing him some photos of Virginia I walked away realizing that he remembered us because Virginia was likely his most challenging patient and we were his most relentless parents during that rotation.
After the meeting I zipped back home in time to put Virginia to bed. I got her in her jammies, zipped her in her sleep sack, and sorta mindlessly pulled a book off the shelf to read. We have lots of books with paper pages but don't read them as often as our board books because Virginia tends to turn them into confetti. For this reason I was not very familiar with the book I pulled out. I opened the front cover and immediately realized that it was one of the books that we received from the NICU book cart. I looked closer and realized that this book was donated by the family of the woman who invited me to join the advisory council meeting. full circle.
The irony. The beautiful and painful circle of prematurity where all those little things like parking garages, books and songs carry great significance.