Finally, home is home again. We are still pretty traumatized by all that went down, and glimmers of how close we came pop up frequently. Just now as I opened up our blog to make this post, I realized that the last batch of pictures that I posted could have been the last pictures that I had of my daughter. I stare at them and think, these could be the pictures that I spent the rest of my life looking at, wondering what she would have looked like all grown up.
One of the days we were in ICU (they all blend and mix together- already our memory has the twists and holes that traumatic memories have) this reverend from the pastoral care department at the hospital came in. Now, I'm open to some spiritual support or what have you, so it wasn't unwelcome or anything, but I'm also just a tad bit busy staring at Hazel and watching each breath on her ventilator come and go, willing her to heal. So this woman comes in and introduces herself and she has like 8% of my attention as she is talking about something or other and I'm mostly humoring her because I used to be a medical Social Worker and I know how hard it is to impose yourself into someone elses crisis. Until she says, "You know, sometimes the blessing in these things happening is that we learn to not take things for granted as much any more." This is the part where I am this close to tearing her head off. I said to her, "I had to go through a lot of fertility treatments to get my daughter, and I was diagnosed with a chronic illness three months ago, so I have not really been in a position to take my baby for granted," which I thought was very diplomatic, all things considered. Then I turned my chair so my back was to her and made it clear that I was too busy watching (with quiet intensity) Hazel's little chest rise and fall to continue to humor her.
I am in love with Hazel beyond all reason. I am lucky enough that I have felt that since the moment I met her gaze. I have watched every perfect cell division in her beautiful little body with awe and wonder. I can't tear myself away from watching her sleep. She and I were made for one another, we fit perfectly. Every love song written is about her. For the rest of my days I will unfortunately carry the image of her turning blue, foaming at the mouth and reaching for me in terror. Of her reaching over the surgeon's shoulder screaming for me as he carried her off to the OR. Of her intubated. Of her hands tied to the bed. Of her coughing up bright, terrifying blood in my arms alone at home. I will never forget the hollow sound of my screaming, or what my husband looked like when he was broken, wracked, curled in a ball in the PICU hallway. I will never forget the feeling of desperately wanting to leave, to walk out of the hospital so that I would never feel what I was feeling because it was simply intolerable. Wandering with dizzy eyes because everyone said, "go get a cup of coffee," but feeling the physical pull back into her room like a rope around my waist. The nausea. Her thighs losing their delicious baby fat, wasting away, her limp arms and neck, her swollen ankles. The constant beeping. The nurses quiet head shaking, clucking, shushing. The doctors hugging me. Every moment makes my throat start to tighten up like hers did.
I am not having nightmares, but certainly flashbacks. Certainly this weekend there was a measure of denial, as we get back into our routine as quickly as we can. But Hazel is different. She continued to grow the almost-month that she was sick. Her hair is longer and curlier, her voice is different, and she laughs at everything all of a sudden. Our time stopped, we lost a month of our lives, but she grew on.
Thank the heavens for our friends, who have been kind beyond measure, for strangers who have been generous beyond my wildest expectations. For pranayama which has let in all the goodness and light and rid me of poison. For acupuncture and the amazing sister-mama who has started healing me with it. For massage because human touch is divine in it's ability to repair any damage to the soul. For those asanas which open the hips and shoulders and keep me standing. Thank the heavens for my husband who is truly my partner and the moment that I felt we were too drawn to support one another was the moment that I thought I might die. We have our girl. Our bright, shining, funny, sharp, silly, beautiful, warm, perfect, spectacular, brilliant, stunning girl who is our moon, sun, star. From here to the sky and everything in between I have never taken her for granted, and plan to spend the rest of my days bathing in her perfect breath.