“I think she’s ready.”
I was unsure. I could tell your Dad was sure you weren’t ready. His expression was one of shock.
“I don’t understand – why do we keep pushing her? She’s only just off the ventilator.”
He had huge bags under his eyes from the effort of moving house, performing at work and getting in here to see you whenever possible. In amongst all this chaos that has reigned over our lives for the past two and a bit months it’s easy to forget the plans we were making just 9 weeks ago. The night before I went into hospital following that awful scan we had sat front row at auction and bid on our forever house. We had pictured you and your brother in the pool, imagined landscaping the back yard to a more manicured affect, and renovated a huge entertaining area in our minds. It was supposed to be the start of something new, but we’ve hit a few road blocks since then.
Not twelve hours after our bid was successful and the paperwork was signed, I was whisked out of sonography and wheeled by a kindly orderly up into delivery waiting for your impending birth. He squeezed my leg and whispered to me that it would be alright, though in that moment I knew it wouldn’t. And two months later there is a light, (a tiny feint light barely the size of a matchstick), glowing off in the distance of this large, overwhelming tunnel. Still, your Dad had the weight of the world on his shoulders and once again the very best and only thing I could do for our family was nothing at all.
“If she says it’s okay let’s try it.” I had long ago resigned myself to these ups and downs. I had learned to simply go along with whatever was put in front of me. Clamber up a wall, stumble over a road block, fall down a chasm. I knew in the end there was a mountain to climb and it didn’t matter how I got there. I just had to get there with my family in one piece.
The voice was telling me, “It’s not this time. She will be back on CPAP. But she will be okay.”
Slowly, carefully, your tubes were removed and we watched your pretty face adoringly, as parents of newborns do. It was a moment of normality, surrounded by the insanity that surrounded us. But for just a moment, we were still in time, watching you just be.
And then the beeps started.
Nurse Kath smiled kindly. “Don’t sit and watch the beeps. Her respiratory rate will go up at first. It will come back down again. Go and have lunch then come back.” There would be no cuddle today, the nurses and doctors wanted to give you the very best chance at staying off the oxygen. They wanted to make sure you had no extra stimulation. Nothing to tip you out of balance, even slightly.
When we came back the beeps were still going. “Don’t worry! If she needs to go back on we’ll put her on. It will be okay.”
For just the second time, I had to cut my visit short. We could not sit and watch the beeps all day, waiting for you to fail. When you are older, I promise we will be better at that – I’ll sit and watch you come last in every race, tutor you and help with your homework so you barely pass school, listen to you sing off key in any concert. But for now, the wounds are still so fresh. You fight these battles with every piece of your tiny being, and we are driven mad by the incessant beeps, wondering what it means for the tapestry that will become your life – the bigger picture. So after only a few hours, Dad and I went home to sleep, unpack, and play with your brother.
At 8 o’clock we were already in bed watching television when my phone rang. Dad answered it and I could hear the relief in his voice as he spoke to the nurses.
He looked at me as he hung up and said, “She’s back on CPAP. Oxygen at 25%, but doing really well. Happy and pink.”
He didn’t need to tell me, I had known it all day. I was relieved too.
Yesterday Lachie and I left you with Ma to go to the paediatrician for his check up before school starts next year. Across the last three years we have had dozens of specialist appointments for you, but this is his first. He chats to the doctor who happens to be the paediatrician that visited me when you were in utero to discuss your chances at a good outcome. It’s the first time we’ve seen him since I was transferred to another hospital, and he is pleased to hear you are well.
Your brother has an excellent memory and the doctor makes conversation as he looks in his ears and measures his height.
“Do you remember Lucy being in hospital?”
“Yes, she was very sick.”
“Do you remember where she slept?”
“Yes it was in a little tiny cot with these funny holes in. It was covered in buttons.”
He remembers every detail to the doctor who listens in amused silence. It occurs to me that he will never stop protecting you after what he saw you go through at such a tiny age. You have changed us all in so many ways, but Lachie in particular. Dad and I were already parents. Although we didn’t yet know it, we understood the depths a parent would go to in order to keep their child safe. But Lachie was barely 18 months when you were born, with no understanding of the world around him. He learned very quickly what being a big brother entails and to this day it is imprinted on his heart.