Timing is everything
I spend much of my time in deep thought lately. Eight weeks of life at a women’s hospital can have that effect on a person.
And I’m the deeply affected type.
Each day watching my infant son Will grow — this week is 38 weeks gestation, so he’s closing in on my original due date of Sept. 22 — I’m in the presence of greatness. For only 6 pounds, he’s the strongest person I know. He’s pretty much reached all the major milestones a preemie can, and we are on what they call “brady (bradycardia) watch.” That means we are counting down the instances where he has a quick dip in his heart rate. They are becoming fewer and further between, so he’s coming close to a discharge date.
Every day is a new success story.
Not only does Will inspire me, but I’m also constantly in awe of the people who make this world at the hospital go around. From the doctors and nurses to the social workers and cafeteria cooks, there’s a network of people here to make sure we all bring these babies safely and healthfully into the world.
I especially enjoy my visits to the cafeteria.
Since I’m breastfeeding, I’m hungry. A lot. And I like the people in the cafeteria. Food makes people smile. Obviously, the social environment down in the cafeteria is also a little less sterile than in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Being around people always helps me.
There’s one cook in particular I enjoy seeing. He’s always in a cheery mood and likes to sing. He’s also funny, and I always find that to be an important quality in a person. Recently I was waiting for him to finish cooking my fish sandwich, and he was making me smile with some little quips. I told him I did stand-up comedy before the baby and that he should consider pursuing a career in it. He told me I could still do comedy, just take the baby on the road with me.
I’m not sure if an 8-week-old baby would agree.
I suggested he try one of the open mics around Indianapolis, since there are many. He didn’t seemed convinced. He said he couldn’t do it because he would be too afraid. I told him that when I first started, I felt the same. But I fought through it. I’m still scared when I think about it. I told him whenever I was about to do a short five-minute set, I would remind myself that it would either be the best or worst five minutes of my life. But that five minutes would go by so fast, I wouldn’t even remember it being that bad.
Then I would do it all over again.
Life is a lot like comedy that way. At times, the last eight weeks — almost 10 if we count the pre-labor bed rest at the hospital — have gone by so slowly I often felt as if the days would never go forward. Like we were stuck in some kind of time warp.
And now I have that “Rocky Horror Picture Show” song stuck in my head.
At the same time, the days have gone by in what feels like a blur. Quickly, like how IndyCars go around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track at the Indy 500. There’s been something new at every turn of our experience in the NICU, and in the end Will will come a champion. IndyCar driver Will Power comes to mind.
Maybe someday Will can meet him.
All my mother friends, and my own mother, have warned me about how fast kids grow up, and I most certainly agree. I can hardly believe Will will be a 2-month-old next week. He’s happy, healthy and already has a personality. We know he’s a fighter. He also makes me laugh. I’ve seen him give me some looks while I’m holding him that tell me he is a wise old man in a tiny baby body. And a funny little guy.
Possibly a comic.
I’ve been told not to blink because he’ll be graduating from high school before I know it. I can say this is true for my friends’ kids who once were babies I held and are now teenagers. I can remember staring down at them at the hospital when they were first born, feeling that burning maternal love even though they weren’t even my own kids.
They don’t call me Aunt April for nothing.
I cringe when I think about them dating or driving, but I know that’s all part of growing up. I do know they’ve been taught to make wise decisions, show respect to others and be all-around good people. With all my deep thought about the future, that’s what I plan to teach Will. That’s really all a mother can ask for in helping guide kids into adulthood. And maybe for time to speed up, then slow down.
Just a tiny bit.
April E. Clark is celebrating the greatest year of her life this Saturday with a dateaversary. That’s a new word. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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