I was filling up a growler at the Bull and Bush when I received word that London no longer needed oxygen support. Tears immediately filled my eyes as I stared at the text message from Kate that delivered the news. I tried to compose myself as I signed the bill and took my growler, noticing a woman next to me at the bar. The woman’s prolonged stares told me that she knew I was trying hard not to cry.
Back in my car, I was able to share the news with my parents who were visiting us for Thanksgiving. After that I wept. I was overcome with pride in my daughter’s strength and attitude. It was the happiest cry I can remember having.
Here, on this blog, I have tried to convey to you what this journey has been like for our little family. However, there are some emotions that are so hard for me to put into words that I know I cannot give you the depth of feeling I felt at this news or that news, nor should I really expect to be able to do that because my feelings as London’s dad are obviously not going to be the same for you. Nevertheless, I wanted to try.
If you have read this blog from the start, you know just how far London has come since birth. I have reminded you enough. But her finally shedding oxygen support was a landmark event in her story, unlike any that she or her parents have lived through.
From January 30, 2014, we have treated London like a normal baby, sort of convincing ourselves that this is how all lives start. This is a coping mechanism and I suspect parents of babies and children with physical or mental setbacks have often treated their child as completely normal. This has served us well and I am sure it has served countless other parents well.
Now, I can only speak for myself, but no matter how much I thought of London as normal, I knew of her unique health risks and the challenges she had faced, so I never forgot that this was all quite far from normal. For all of her life up until last Tuesday, London had external, let’s call them accent pieces, on her face that clued everyone else into her prematurity or special needs. As a parent of a preemie, you get used to this, but from that first moment when you see your baby in that Isolette with tubes coming out of her mouth, nose, and belly, you yearn for the day when she can rid herself of it all, when she can be free of it.
Just shy of her ten-month birthday, that day arrived and I will remember for the rest of my life where I was when it did.