Did it go by fast?
That’s what everyone asks when we tell them London is turning one this week.
Like all new parents we have been very busy this last year. That’s what happens when you have kids. Life speeds up as you nurture another life. Everything takes longer from getting out the door to eating a meal to loading a car full of stuff for just six hours away from the house.
Time goes by quickly when everything takes longer. Maybe that is why everyone seems to have that feeling that the first year flies by.
But the answer is no. This year did not go by fast.
We just visited the NICU on Tuesday. We saw a few nurses who took care of London. The front desk staff recognized us as we were walking up the hallway toward them. “You guys look familiar,” one of them said, motioning at my height.
Standing there while London smiled and giggled at everyone who stopped to say hi, I had this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness. To think of London’s days in the NICU I feel like I need to look much further back in time than one year. Sometimes it feels like two years ago. Sometimes it feels like it never happened because that time was so different than what our day-to-day routine is like now.
Walking those familiar hospital hallways, making that familiar request to get through to the NICU, seeing the nurses, and hearing the distant beeps and alarms from the monitors in the NICU pods reminded me of how routine the NICU became. I forget it, but this place was our home for 109 days. Our house was just where we slept, but our lives unfolded in this little corner of the hospital.
I don’t know if you have ever had to visit your baby in the NICU. If you haven’t, let me tell you those days don’t pass quickly by. Since we almost spent a third of London’s first year in the NICU, a third of that year dragged on with countless questions, tests, consultations, laughs, smiles, and tears.
When I woke up this morning I glanced at my iPhone like I always do. The little white icon for the calendar app displayed “29.” I froze and stared at the number. London was not born until the 30th, but the 29th, January 29th, is when her early arrival started. To me, January 29, 2014 was the beginning of a miracle, so it holds a very special place in my heart, second only to January 30, 2014.
One year ago tonight we exited the elevator on the 4th floor. Our hearts remained there until May 19th. The time in between felt more like a year, which also feels like it took place years ago.
No, it did not go by fast.