I remember trauma well. The trauma of waking up every morning and remembering that your children are in the hospital. Waking up every morning and fearing that this could be the last day of their short lives. We are lucky that everything worked out. That our children came home from the NICU and are now rambunctious, evil toddlers, but not everyone is that lucky.
Sitting next to my wife’s hospital bed, the night I rushed her to the hospital, the first thing I Googled was the survival rate of infants born at 26 weeks. It is 70% incase you are wondering. That sounds like a good number. Something that should bring a bit of optimism, but think of the hundreds, thousands, millions of babies born around the world every year. I didn’t know how many of them were born at 26 weeks but the thought that three out of ten of them don’t make it and here we are about to have two of them. That is frightening.
It is also frightening when the hospital calls in the middle of the night to ask your permission to do a full blood transfusion because babies born that early lack the ability to produce their own red blood cells. There was a lot frightening about that experience and it left a scar. It left a scar that manifests itself in odd ways and at odd times.
Everything went perfectly according to plan with my wife’s last pregnancy, and that still didn’t prevent our past trauma from rearing its ugly head. Everyday of this past pregnancy was lived in the shadow of the last one. Until the morning of my wife’s pre-term labor that last time we were happy parents to be planning all the things parents to be plan. We’d signed up for a hospital tour, birthing classes, even had a baby shower planned. It was your stereotypical suburban pregnancy. Then the babies came early, very early, and that caused this last pregnancy to be completely different, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the impact of a global pandemic.
Our mood was somber for most of this last pregnancy. We spent it waiting for bad news that never came, and that afternoon, at the hospital, when my daughter was born we waited for the bad news to arrive until she had. Perhaps the bad news was coming. Was almost to the hospital. Almost in the delivery room, but our baby girl beat it there. She joined us in this world before the bad news could arrive.
Sometimes I still feel like I am waiting for it to arrive. When I hear her gurgling on spit up or when her breathing is too quiet I hop out of bed and check on her. When she’s sleeping in her basinet I walk over and lightly brush my fingers across her cheek to elicit a response. I have to constantly make sure everything is all right, because there is a scar inside of me and I do not know how deep it goes.