I am not sure what got me to thinking about this today. I had just dropped off Squink at school and I was driving to work, NPR was on talking about the presidential race and more fighting somewhere. I was driving past where I went to high school and…
The image of Squink’s oxygen mask landed right smack in the middle of my thought.
And I was left feeling powerless.
I revisit Squink’s stay in the NICU about once a year. It always happens like this; I am going on with my life when something, anything, will provoke the BAM and an image will jump into my head.
There are many. they all look alike in a way. I think it is because there was very poor light in the NICU, with the exception of his glowing bili-blanket that cast a ghostly neon glow over things. It might be of him wearing protective eye covers, or with a needle in his head, the feeding tube in his nose, the APAP covering his face.
It is interesting that when that BAM image happens, that my whole body just goes back to those days and I feel helpless and scared. Even if I can see him right in front of me as a delightful seven year old, running and jumping, laughing, and astounding me with his wisdom… I feel the same way I felt those first few weeks of his life when I thought that maybe if I held my breath that he would be able to begin breathing on his own.
If I am home when the BAM happens. I pull out a box of things I saved from that experience.His oxygen mask, so tiny and little, the heart monitor stickers that let us know how strong his heart was beating, the oxygen sensor that let us know if he was breathing enough, his little itty bitty hospital issue hat, or the eye covers he had to protect his eyes from the bili-light. I even have a piece of his feeding tube and the two stitched up strings that saved his life among his ultra sounds and, thankfully, his discharge papers.
I also saved a lot of things that did not fit in that box, things that were these gestures from strangers that still bring tears to my eyes.
Squink was in NICU over Christmas. Special items knit and sewn by church groups were handed to us on a regular basis. I treasure each and every one of those items. Some are made well, with beautiful straight stitches and evenly knit blankets. Others, are made as if the maker felt like they had to make sure that a blanket was available immediately, seams showing, awkwardly placed prints…. That doesn’t matter though. I treasure each and every one of all of those blankets and hats. I picture groups of women sitting at home or in a group at their church; talking and laughing while they made these items that my son would some day use. That blanket that would cover his incubator, that hat that helped keep the needle stay put… In my mind these are the same women that fill craft bazaars at churches with their hand made goods. So, I seek them out. As I walk the tables with their wares on display I ask if they also help out hospitals with their goods and if say that they do, I buy something from them. I tell them that I am grateful. And that the unknown faces behinds each of those items I have saved in my armoire come from a woman like them and that this the only way I know to show my gratitude.