I did not expect to feel such a strange, well, longing, for our time spent in the NICU and PICU. I know it’s odd, but there are times that I really miss the days (and nights) we spent at Akron Children’s Hospital.
It’s not that I miss Bekah being sick—because I definitely LOVE the fact that she’s all patched up. It’s more like I miss the time I could spend with her. I miss her being tiny. I miss the days and nights spent surrounded by doctors and nurses who were almost as excited to see Bekah each day as I was.
Looking back now, it’s hard to remember any of the scary, terrible, gut-wrenching times. Well, ok, it’s still pretty easy to remember them. But it’s also easy to remember them fondly now, instead of with fear.
I know there were plenty of days and nights (oh, you know, 10 weeks of them) in the NICU that we sat (or paced), waiting for something, anything to change. Waiting for an answer to so many prayers, and sometimes not even caring what the answer was – as long as it was some kind, any kind, of an answer.
As we walked back into Akron Children’s NICU that day, it felt a little like going back to visit an old neighbor after having moved away, or even like coming back home after an extended trip abroad. Everything is the same. Items are exactly where they were left, but it seems like the neighbors have changed a little.
Some landscaping has changed, maybe someone has painted the house, but for the most part, the sights, sounds and smells are eerily the same…yet different. Even the living beings, while still mostly the same people, are not exactly the same. People have had haircuts, a few faces have changed, but mostly, everything is the same. Except we don’t live here anymore. We aren’t going to hurry into one of the rooms to find Bekah. She is with us.
I was surprised (although I probably shouldn’t have been) the day we visited the NICU at how many people remembered Bekah. We stood in the hall reminiscing with person after person about our time spent in many of the different rooms. We saw doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and everyone who did so very much for Bekah, and us, during our stay.
That’s why I find it so hard to say just how thankful I am. Each and every person we saw spent time with us, loving us in a way that only a caretaker of small children can. They sat by our sides as we mourned the loss of the “perfect” child, and came to accept the beautiful being we were blessed with instead.
They held our hands, patted our backs, and looked at us with understanding and kindness as we faced each and every hurdle. They sang Bekah songs. Well, at least Dr. Butler did. Early one morning he told us that her favorite part was “fa-la-la-la-la” in “Deck the Halls” and we should try singing it while she was eating. We absolutely LOVED him for that. It made us laugh a little just when we needed it most.
They knew when to comfort us, and when to just leave us to sit quietly, lost in our own thoughts. They were exactly what we needed, and because of them, although we were surrounded by machines and often sometimes felt like we were under a microscope ourselves, we could be exactly what Bekah needed. Parents.
So, how do we say thank you for saving our daughter, for helping to heal her, for preparing all of us for heart surgery, and for helping us to feel like we really were parents those first few months?
It isn’t possible to ever say it enough, or to repay all that our NICU family did for us. But, nevertheless, we are thankful. We are thankful from the very bottom of our hearts.
Read the rest of Sarah and Rebekah’s story through her blog, Following Your Heart.