Last night, Kate and I watched some old videos of London in the NICU as we were falling asleep. We did this every night while she was in the NICU. Now, not so much, because we can get out of bed and walk twenty feet to her crib and there she is, sleeping so peacefully. As we scrolled through old photos and videos on our camera roll, we happened upon this one…
Kate said, “You should write about this picture and the bili lights.”
“Okay,” I said. But it took me a few more minutes to figure out where I could go with a post about this picture. First, I should just tell you about the picture, it is of a very small stuffed animal (beany baby size) wearing the goggles that London wore while she was under the bili lights. We have a couple of these BluBlockers because the nurses thought London was done with the bili lights and then she went back on them after we had taken the first goggles home.
These goggles were addicting to me once they were home because I could, whenever I would pass them in the living room, pick them up and smell them. Their smell transported me back to London’s room. So when these goggles came home, it felt, for the first time, like we had brought a little bit of London home with us. Before bed I would inhale deeply from the goggles. When I got downstairs in the morning I would take another hit from the goggles. It’s starting to sound like I’m talking about a bong, but that’s entirely appropriate because the smell of these goggles made me relax, they transported me to another place, and I was at peace.
Sadly, the goggles eventually lost their scent of newborn London. Unfortunately, one can’t take that smell and store it away in a NICU keepsakes box where the goggles now rest.
Every one of the fifteen weeks London was in the NICU, I took a load of her laundry home. And every time I was about to put her clothes in the washer I smelled them, although with clothes I had to carefully select where I was going to plunge my nose. Then I threw them into the washer. By the way, do you know how many preemie outfits you can fit in a modern washer? I’ll save you the calculation: a lot.
Smell was and still is an essential way to connect to your baby, especially if they are in an isolette. Even before we were discharged from Kate’s room at the hospital the nurses had us wearing receiving blankets in our shirts as we slept. Whenever we were next at London’s side, the nurses took the blankets from us and placed them near her head or wrapped her up in them. The blankets were supposed to familiarize London with her parents’ smell.
I liked to think of her taking a deep inhale from the receiving blanket before she fell asleep in her hot and humid isolette. And again, in the morning, taking a deep breath and catching a hint of mom or dad in the air so a part of us was always with her.