If all goes well Libby will be released from the hospital tomorrow morning at this time. John and I will drive in, sign what needs to be signed, listen to what needs to be said, walk down with our child unattached to monitors while a nurse walks beside us, click her into the car, get in and drive home. With only our daughter. For the very first time. At 7 weeks old. And I am so scared. On so many levels. I am so scared that something is going to happen in the next 24 hours to prevent her from coming home-that perhaps even as I write this, unknown to me, the doctors and nurses know tomorrow won't be the day for us. I am scared that as we walk to the car with the nurse keeping an eye on Libby that she'll do something that will cause concern and we'll have to turn around and make the most awful walk of shame back into the hospital. I am scared that once we get her in the car and get her home, we won't know how to take care of her. Because although she is a normal, healthy baby, she is a special case. She does have bradacardias when she eats sometimes. She has a hard time gaining weight. She has acid refulx that can cause a whole host of other problems. I am scared that we'll do something-not feed her correctly, not listen well enough at night, not treat her exactly as she needs to be treated-and she will get hurt...or worse. I am scared I won't know how to take care of her to make her grow and thrive. And that's not just new mom talk, that's real life, my daughter has medical issues (at least for a while) talk.
I know within a few days or weeks of her being home, I'll be as confident as if she'd been born in my house and lived with us ever sense. I just need to get used to my daughter. I need to get to know her. I need to know what a smile that dips up on the left as opposed to the right means. I need to know what an eye roll in the middle of a feed means versus when she wakes up. I need to learn the difference between red faces from pooping, stretching or waking up. I need to learn the cry from hunger, boredom, or calling out for her brother and sister. I need to learn if she likes the wrap better or the sling better. I need to learn how she likes to be held while she eats. I need to spend time with her and learn who she is. Because honestly, I don't know that yet. I can't know it. No one who's had a baby in the NICU can know their child yet. Because as much time as you spend with them in the NICU-and trust me it's precious little-it is a fraction, a mere fraction-to what you spend with a healthy child that goes home with you when its born. So my daughter is 7 weeks old tomorrow and I only know her as though I just met her.
Of course I look forward to these first few days home with her. They will be so very precious. Introducing her to her brother for the first time. Letting her feel sunlight on her skin for the very first time. Having a breeze hit her face for the first time. Holding her in my bed after she eats for the first time. Walking around the house in the middle of the night trying to get her to go back to sleep for the first time. Taking her for a walk for the first time. I know all these firsts will be so precious-so much more so because I have dreamed about them so many times these past 7 weeks. But I look forward, so much more, to the day when she is a fat happy baby. When she can sit on her own, and roll over, and eat without worry. Because then I think I can truly enjoy her and not worry so much.
So these next 24 hours will be ones of great nerves and anticipation and fear. We shall see what they bring about....my daughter home to me at last or more time away? Either way she will be home. And it will be sooner than I think. But even at 24 hours away, it seems so far and so long.