*This is another post in an ongoing series. Scroll all the way down or click to part I to get to the beginning.
We had to wait to go see London until Kate’s nurse came in and checked up on her. We had heard it was a male nurse and we were initially uncomfortable with that, but we were somewhat relieved once he came in and introduced himself and started to talk about what things he would look for. He was a dad himself. Very short hair, pretty much bald, and of average height with a warm demeanor. He was going to apply pressure to Kate’s stomach to feel for the top of the uterus. He would also check for blood coming out of Kate, which so soon after the C-section was completely normal. He would also handle the catheter and switch out the bag if full. He did all that and I thought he did an exceptional job. The uncomfortable feeling was gone and we were just minutes away from getting to go see London together for the first time.
The nurse and I helped Kate into the wheelchair. It was a very slow process, but the nurse seemed impressed by Kate’s progress, having been stitched up just four hours earlier. Once Kate was ready to roll, we were off.
I knew Kate would be happy to see London for the first time, but I was a bit nervous, hoping she wouldn’t break down. There was absolutely nothing I could say to Kate to prepare her for the sight of her daughter.
As we arrived at London’s isolette, Kate reached out to delicately put her finger in London’s hand and she whispered her very first words to London, “Hi, baby girl.” That was all she got out before we both were tearing up and looking on London with wonder and fear, a combination of feelings that is right at home in the NICU.
After some time, we were composed enough for a picture, our first family portrait. I handed my iPhone over to Megan and she captured the moment. It was 8:58 in the morning. London is sprawled out in the foreground. The top of her isolette is popped open. There are tubes of varying widths coming out of her and wandering all over her tiny little bed. The white sticker on her right cheek is visible (it’s holding her endotracheal tube in place). Kate is right behind London, with her right index finger in London’s right hand. Kate is still in a hospital gown and has a blue bag on her lap in case she loses her breakfast. I am crouched behind Kate with my left arm resting on the back of the wheelchair. We both have masks on, but you can tell we are beaming behind them. Kate’s eyes are squinty, a tell that she has a huge smile on her face. In the background, over Kate’s left shoulder, you can see some nurses, who were strangers then, but who are nearly family now.
We weren’t with London that long before we had to get Kate back and comfortable in bed. We still hadn’t slept at all. Resting at this point was very important for Kate’s recovery. Shortly after we left London’s side, we shared that family portrait with family and then on Instagram and Facebook. And now, here.