Yesterday, my mom, Meghan, and I were at UCLA for a meeting. Meghan had never been there, and my mom hadn’t spent much time in the new hospital. When Madeline was in the NICU (and later briefly on the pediatric floor), she was at the old hospital across the street. Last summer the hospital staff moved into their new, cushy digs, leaving behind their dilapidated facility and heaps of memories.
We walked through the medical plaza before we went into the hospital, and I pointed things out to them. The lab where I fainted, the hematology clinic, Dr. Blood’s office, where we saw Matthew Perry, Dr. Risky’s office, the cafeteria where the hot doctors eat, where the crowds gathered after Michael Jackson died. You know, the landmarks. It seemed like I’d really come to know the place since my weekly obstetric appointments had started.
Except, we’ve been keeping appointments in the medical plaza for over a year. Appointments for Madeline. The building houses Dr. Lung and the NICU follow-up clinic. It has the x-ray machine that took many images of Maddie’s lungs. It’s where we were told she was doing so well, developmentally right on target, sloooowly catching up in size.
In fact, we were there a year ago yesterday. I didn’t know that when we were there, but while I walked through the corridors of the medical plaza with my mom and friend I was hit with a lot of memories. I remembered when Maddie was smaller and Mike and I would push her in her stroller to her appointments. As she got bigger, I’d carry her on my hip and she’d make friends with everyone we passed. I remembered standing in the elevator lobby while four nurses went wild over Maddie, and she waved and said hi to all of them. I remembered the pride I felt that my daughter was so happy and charming despite her rough start in life. I remember sitting in the waiting room surrounded by “sick kids,” and longing for the day that Maddie wouldn’t need monthly check-ups. Now I’d do anything to be sitting in the waiting room with her again.
Mike usually drops me off in front of the medical plaza before my OB appointments. I go check in, and he parks the car. The first time I walked in alone, I automatically hit the elevator button for the second floor. The pediatrics doctors are on the second floor. I didn’t realize my mistake until I rounded the corner and saw the big fish tank in the waiting room. The kids’ fish tank. Maddie LOVED looking at those fish. I burst into tears.
Later today, I will take that elevator to the fourth floor, and see detailed images of my second child. I will leave my sadness on the lower floors. On the fourth floor, only cautious excitement is allowed.