My daughter, Francesca, was born early at 27 weeks in 2014 and spend 10 weeks in the NICU. That is the quick and dirty story I give anyone who asks. But experiencing those 10 weeks was not so neat and tidy.
Justin and I visited Francesca at lunch and in the evening each day during her “touch times,” when we could take her temperature and change her diaper. Otherwise, it was better for her to be left alone and not touched.
It look us about 30 minutes each way to get to the hospital from our home, and Justin would often drive while I looked out the window. I vividly remember driving past Seasons 52 restaurant each day, because it had opened earlier that year and was popular. It was located at an intersection by a stop light and I would stare at the people waiting outside the restaurant.
Sometimes I looked at them angrily, wondering “Why is this happening to my child? Why are we the ones dealing with this?” And other times, I looked at them in awe, wondering if they knew how lucky they were to be going about normal life, having a pleasant dinner out while we were on the way to visit our tiny baby who wasn’t able to breathe, swallow or suck on her own. During those days, I was so thankful for every good test result, every positive remark from a nurse or doctor, every small step forward.
Now Francesca is 2 years old, and I fear some days I am more like those people I watched waiting outside Seasons 52 than the new mom in that car. I go about sometimes enjoying, sometimes taking for granted, everyday activities like eating dinner, shopping or running errands.
I watched Francesca in her Halloween costume this year– an adorable Care Bear, happily pushing her stroller all over the church parking lot. And I was reminded of something our pastor said in church the past two Sundays: Don’t rush this life!
So I’m trying to slow down some this Thanksgiving season. Turn off the noise, just sit in the quiet and think about this wonderful, magical life. Today that looked like sitting at the dining room table eating imaginary food with Francesca off her plastic plates with a plastic soup ladle. She was so proud of her culinary masterpiece. And so was I.