Today is the one-year anniversary of London’s big move from the NICU to her new home. Reflecting on that day a year later, I think I made the right choice by not overthinking what a big change it was going to be for London and for us.
I knew it would be an exhausting transition, but my thinking was that I would roll with the punches, get knocked down a few times (which I did), adapt my style (easy, give up sleep), and then hang on for dear life and at some point in the future I would come out a practiced and knowledgable parent (still looking to the future on that one, at least in some regards). To me, going through that process seemed easier than trying to be ahead of the curve. Plus, that would take time to read and figure out what I was doing wrong. After 109 days in the NICU and then starting parenthood all over again when London came home, we did not have time for that.
Learning London’s cues taught me nearly everything I needed to know about taking care of her this last year. A few cues are exclusive to taking care of a preemie, like knowing when to stop the bottle feed and move forward with the tube feed, or knowing when 1/8th liter flow was not enough or if it was just right. I relied on London’s pediatrician, her nurses, her physical therapist, her occupational therapist, and both sets of grandparents to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.
A year later, London is far easier to take care of than she was with all the accessories she came home with. And, I am far more rested than those first days and weeks she was home. I am still tired most of the time, but I have coffee for that.
London’s first year home bears the mark of many a preemie: daily doctor’s appointments at first, then weekly, and then gradually monthly, with some major scares along the way. I hope and pray her second year at home will be smoother than that, that it will bear more marks of hope and promise than it will remnants of her harrowing beginning.