I thought the hospital would be this phase that would exist and then would end. That I would come home from that unfortunate time and be who I was with a baby in tow. Of course I never thought we would be there five months and I never thought we would almost lose her. Except maybe I did think those things, I just blocked that out and figured I would survive it and then return to Brooke when it ended. No matter how it ended.
Colette had a follow up appointment with her cardiologist yesterday. During the appointment I watched her laying on the bed that I laid on just nine months earlier when we got such horrible news that she had major congenital heart disease, potentially incompatible with life. Yesterday she was just staring at the echo screen and the doctor was making light-hearted small talk and just five minutes after he started he finished by saying, “everything looks great.” Nine months ago I sobbed in that room. Trever and I both did, the doctor had to leave the room so we could break down and pull ourselves together enough to make it to the car. Nine months ago I had stared at that same echo screen playing out what it would look like to lose our baby girl. I also experienced a miracle in that room when her diagnosis got reversed. “Woops, we got a bad angle.” Yesterday I looked up at the ceiling tiles I had stared at 9 months ago with all that nausea and fear swirling around. I looked up at them and I looked down at her and I held it together just long enough to make it to my car.
Because all is well. The people around me are celebrating Colette in ways that make me weak with gratitude. No one is tired of her story. They keep applauding her miracle and I’m humbled. They help me celebrate. Because the dark truth of it is that sometimes it’s hard for me to celebrate. I’ve come out of the hospital and our whole family is different. Colette is just representative of how we’re all slowly healing and weaning off our survival drugs (her: morphine / me: a stiff upper lip). I’m learning the new me as all the strength wears off and the leftover pain settles in. I can’t figure out how to feel less afraid. I have a short fuse that once was long. I have low energy that gets me just barely to the end of the day. With every celebration of our miracle I grieve with those who were left with tragedy. It’s weird and dark. I expected candy canes and silver lanes when the reality is that I celebrate with a remaining shadow. I suppose it’s that dark truth that life is unpredictable and I can’t unlearn that lesson. Or it’s a delayed response to all the pain. Or it’s the baby girl that was our NICU neighbor who is still there without a predictable end date. There is a heaviness to my being that won’t slough off. Or maybe it’s a realism that will never go away, I have a new view of life that will always carry with it the truth of pain.
I’m learning this new part of me, discovering new scars and making peace with them. But I’m celebrating every second with her too. Every time we sit in the backyard and she stares at the sky. Or every walk we take and she dozes off in her stroller. Or every time we have friends over and we peacefully have dinner with her in our laps. Every bit of it is a celebration.
You’re part of what is helping me celebrate. Thank you for applauding and crying and sending happy emoticons and warm meals. I try and follow that secret social media protocol, not too many picture, less baby photos, don’t try so hard, etc. etc. Well I used to, and now I just post too many photos and even though I’m a bit uneven you’re helping me see the brightness in it all. Thanks for loving her. Thanks for getting excited over all my ridiculous mom posts. It means so much, especially right now while I learn my new self. You're our cheerleaders and I didn't realize how much we needed it. Thanks.