I rang in the new year in an unexpected way. I sat in an emergency room until the doctors finally decided to keep Hobbit #4 overnight.
We settled into our room at about 8 pm, cuddled in bed, and finally fell asleep around 10. Neither of us saw fireworks. We didn’t watch the festivities on television. We didn’t see the Times Square ball drop.
It reminded me that we never, ever know what a new year, or even a new day, will bring.
I took a walk down memory lane to the last time Hobbit #4 and I celebrated the turning of a new year in a hospital together. I was pregnant and we were trying to keep her from coming out too soon. A dear friend became even more dear as we cradled our pregnant bellies and drank sparkling grape juice to celebrate the coming of 2007.
Our strong and sassy girls were born in the early months of that new year.
Last night, I held that same sassy little Hobbit close while the calendar again turned to a new year. As I held her close and breathed in the smell of her sweat and shampoo, I realized that I never got those hospital cuddles with her. She was born in a whirlwind, and our first snuggles were under a blanket in an ambulance. She was whisked away from me to a NICU where our cuddles took place behind a privacy screen while I gave her my milk to comfort her through her first days of life, hooked up to IV’s and poked and stuck every few hours to monitor her progress. I held her at my breast, while she was connected to tubes and lights to clear her jaundice.
I was angry. I was angry with God that he would allow my precious, tiny girl to have such a rude first few days of life. I was angry with the doctors who wouldn’t let her leave, even though she showed no signs of infection. I was angry with myself for imaginary things that I had done “wrong” to cause her to be here. I was angry that we weren’t snuggling at home with the other 3 Hobbits.
But somehow, even through my anger, I found moments to treasurel. The wee hours of the morning when I would stumble through the halls of the hospital to feed her and feel my milk letdown, knowing that my body was still connected to her in some very primal way.
I came to love the way the nurses cared for her as if she were their very own precious little one. And they cared for me also. Did I need a snack? A drink? A cup of coffee?
On this New Year’s holiday, I loved our new nurses. The first nurse who immediately asked my sick little girl her favorite color and then returned to her room with a beautiful pair of purple fairy wings. The nurse who tiptoed in while my little one was fast asleep and took her temperature and her vitals so quietly and gently that she never even woke up. The nurses who checked in on her when this mediocre mommy needed a break and headed to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee and make a phone call. The lovely nurses who brought her every flavor of popsicle, or juice, or Gatorade that she could possibly think to ask for. The nurses who brought extra pillows and blankets so that I could curl up in bed with her. The nurses who brought towels and shampoo so that I could shower.
The holiday was a repeat of many of the experiences she and I had shared before. Our ambulance ride to the hospital reminded me of that first ambulance ride, just an hour after she was born. The marking of a new year reminded me of the holiday when I wasn’t sure if she was going to be born too early. The snuggles in our hospital bed reminded me of that precious time I never had with her.
And then I watched her use the remote from her hospital bed, whenever she wanted, to watch television shows that she wanted, and I saw what a big, strong, sweet girl she has become. I watched her independently use the call button for the nurse, and advocate for what she wanted or needed.
Those were my jobs when she was so very little. She is growing up, finding her independence, and she is able to speak for herself.
Those 24 hours were not how I had envisioned spending part of our holidays, but honestly, I found many, many moments to treasure.