Three weeks. Dave measures in days; I measure in weeks. Days go too slowly. But three weeks feels like something solid: 25% of the theoretical NICU time. Tess is slow and steady on less oxygen and gaining weight. We’re holding our breath, but 25% of easy breezy (comparatively) is behind us. We know that the preemie road ahead of us doesn’t end at the NICU doors – she’ll be on lockdown for 3 months after that, and ‘strictly careful’ is advised for the next RSV season – but even lockdown allows some visitors and let’s us be home. So today is a milestone for Tess, and us! We started the morning out fairly optimistic.
The sunny start continued. Someone at the hospital stopped to tell me that she placed a child for adoption as a teenager, and that seeing Dave and I reminds her of what a good decision that was. She’s going to meet her birth child for the first time this weekend, and I’m sending them the happiest vibes! I can imagine how intimidating and amazing that wait must feel – how hopeful and terrified she must be. It makes me so happy that our adoption will be so different, as so much has changed in the adoption world in the last 20 years. And it makes me so proud of her, for being brave and going to meet this amazing child who is now older than she was when she gave birth.
We had incompatible nurses today, which reminds us how fortunate we are to be working with the fantastic nurses we have most of the time. When I got there for my precious morning cares, the nurse asked if I minded that she’d done cares already. Do I mind?! I get to see Tess twice today, and the most touch I get is when I change her diaper. That’s when she’s alert and out of her little snuggy for a minute, which allows me to talk to her and tuck her back in. Of COURSE I mind!!! Dave and I are like clockwork – we are always at cares. Beating us to the punch by a minute is cruel. She then babbled at me the whole time I was with Tess, leaving me a little empty. No mommy time.
To be clear, I really enjoy talking to our nurses. They’re great people. Still, the good ones always give us a few minutes alone with our daughter – something I’ve decided is an art form of balance: enough privacy to give us time to bond, yet not so much that we are left hanging if we have questions or need a hand. Hats off.
The same nurse tried to make light of my stricken reaction when Dave got there at noon, bless her heart. He did not laugh, but calmly and stubbornly explained (for those of you who know him, I picture the obstinate ‘if you were a sock puppet, I’d be beating you with a bat, you’re so infuriating!’ expression and tone that I so enjoy when it’s used correctly and not pointed at me) why that’s a big deal to us and how we eke out every possible moment with our child.
As a response, this nurse, who has zero experience with our child, decided that it would be best to limit Dave’s kangaroo care so Tess wouldn’t “tank”. Tess has never tanked. In fact, she does so absurdly well with kangaroo that they normally let us hold her until we need to get up! We have since learned that kangaroo care is an hour according to the rules, but still. We have met our second blacklisted nurse; she’s out.
This nurse and a few others (major minority!) simper and patronize. Yes – we’re old, infertile, adoptive parents in a part of the country where people judge your merit as a person by how big your family is and how close together the kids are (not everyone – but we can immediately sense when we’re conversing with that group). I’m not talking Mormons either – we know a lot of fun, sensitive, smart Mormons here and elsewhere. This is the supercilious Young Mommy group – the “I’ve been doing this for years, and if you’d done things the right way you’d be more like me, poor thing” group. I detest that behavior, but we take it – from moms, nurses, whoever else is pointing it at us. Not because we’re shy – get serious! – but because we don’t want to give them any indication we’d like to continue the conversation or bother starting an argument. In the same way that people who haven’t experienced divorce really can’t comment on it without sounding uninformed, if you don’t know adoption/infertility/preemies, think twice before you judge us. And if you have experience in those areas, remember how unique each case is. That’s not to say that anyone should worry about talking to us! We’re obviously happy to share our experiences and to learn from the wise know-it-alls who keep us informed; just don’t talk to us as though our lack of parenting/NICU experience makes us morons.
Fortunately, that awful behavior is balanced out by the myriad acquaintances here that do know adoption/preemies! We’re working at Corner Cafe today, where we discovered the manager’s QUADRUPLETS just left our NICU. Dave had his badge on, so he struck up a conversation. Let’s just say we are well aware that Tess is not the most complicated NICU case! His wife had 20 pounds of baby in her, and those little squirts were out of the NICU in 3 weeks! That’s as close as I ever need to get to that story – enough said. Also, kudos to the parents braver than us! Lol.
All of that to say, I’m really looking forward to tonight, when I’ll actually get to see Tess.
Well, what a turnaround! We did a milk run before cares, and Spencer played a song he wrote for Tess. It was so beautiful and heartfelt, it made me cry. We had great hopes of leaving with a letter for Tess from her birth parents. As with every other adoption-related issue, these birth parents knocked it out of the park! What more precious message could we share with her as she grows than a song written for her and about her, sung by her birth father?! It helps that he’s a really good musician, and i told him I’m picky. 🙂
I know every adoption is different, but I feel like Tess, Dave and I are the luckiest people in the world to have Spencer and Kat as the other part of our adoption triangle.