A day ago, my cousin gave birth to a much-anticipated and longed-for baby boy. Charlie is nine pounds thirteen ounces and absolutely perfect. After he was born, the doctor discovered a true knot in his umbilical cord. So he’s also a very VERY lucky little boy (well, not so little).
Holding him did nothing for my baby fever.
Visiting Kathleen and Charlie held a bunch of mixed emotions. I was so extremely happy and excited to meet my new darling cousin. But the actual act of visiting was hard, because Charlie was born at the same hospital as Madeline. I hadn’t been back there since she passed away.
Things had moved around a bit, so my other cousin Leah and I wandered around looking for Kathleen. We rounded a corner and came upon the NICU. Maddie spent her first four hours in that NICU.
I flashed back to the night she was born. I wanted to see Maddie before she was transferred to UCLA, but it was too soon after my surgery to be in a wheelchair, and things were too frantic in the NICU for my large bed to be wheeled in. So I begged the nurses to leave my bed outside the NICU doors so I could catch a glimpse of Maddie when the transport team took her away. The wait was supposed to only be a few minutes, but it turned into two hours. When she was finally stable enough, the transport team literally ran past me, pushing Maddie in her isolette. I didn’t know if I’d ever see her alive again.
I’d been back to that hospital one other time since, when my friend Leslie had her son Austin. Maddie was about to celebrate her first birthday. I ran into lots of nurses who remembered me, and I delighted in telling them about how Maddie was thriving. They were so thrilled – she was a success story. I was afraid I’d see a nurse who recognized me…I didn’t want to have to say what had happened. Luckily, I never had to.
As we left Kathleen and Charlie, we had to pass the NICU on our way out. I thought about the true knot in Charlie’s cord, and a wave of relief passed over me. I was so happy that Charlie didn’t have to go to the NICU. I was so thankful Kathleen didn’t have to see the inside of that place and know the fear.
Thank goodness for big fat healthy babies.