Charlie has recently received an invitation to attend her NICU reunion. Opening that envelope posed the question of whether or not we should attend. Am I ready for something like this?
My husband had decided that he will gracefully bow out of the event. It was difficult for him to visit Charlie in the NICU. Looking at Charlie’s NICU pictures is tough for him. He wants to look ahead and prefers not to think about Charlie’s past.
On the other hand, I feel as if I owe it to the NICU staff. When Charlie was born, I was not at my best. The NICU staff not only helped pull me out of that but they educated me. I was empowered by their teaching, information, patience, guidance, and understanding. I knew Charlie was in good hands when I left at night. I do not think I would have been able to piece myself together again without the NICU staff. After eighty eight days, they kind of feel like family. I do not have the words to explain how extraordinary NICU nurses are. They are my real life heroes.
I would love to see some of the other NICU moms. A mom that was preparing to take her baby home when I was new to the NICU helped me to understand the process. She explained everything that needed to happen before my baby could go home. I would like to see how she and her baby is doing. There is another particular mom that was in the next room on the high risk perinatal unit. A few weeks later, we met up again in the NICU. Her family took me in their circle and supported me as one of theirs. I sat with her while her baby had heart surgery. She came to visit my baby. We complained and laughed about hospital annoyances to each other. The distance between us and our schedules have made it hard to meet up. However, we still continue to send pictures and messages to one another. Even now, she is the first one that I turn to with troublesome news.
The promise of seeing these wonderful people should be reason enough to go. Why on earth would I hesitate? The answer is simple. It is bothersome to return there. I feel a little nervous when I merely drive to the hospital. I know I should be over this but it continues to sadden me to see a new mom leaving the hospital with their baby. The smell of the hospital cafeteria nauseates me. (I really hope they are not catering the event.) Charlie had to be hospitalized following her NICU discharge. It was a demoralizing nightmare. Additionally, I am concerned about seeing those super preemies… the ones that have miraculously caught up quickly. Seeing the super preemies will sting a little.
My favorite chemistry professor used to say, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” This would be one of those cases. Nevertheless, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. It is time to give Charlie a rest and be the brave one. Charlie and I will go back to the beginning. I am determined to have a great time doing it.
Another gorgeous pic taken by Monica DeMariano