And what will I do with you? Pink and blue, true gold. Nine days old.
– The Mountain Goats
A week ago we were in the thick of it. The sterile smell of hospital hallways, the continuous beeping of the monitors in Finley’s room in the NICU. Sleeping in fitful bursts, realizing hours later that we’ve skipped a meal. The constant reminders of the journeys in Minneapolis were everywhere, but it wasn’t necessarily easier this time around. As Laura commented, it was as if during Isaac’s stay the emotions and frustrations were spread out over weeks but this time it was all condensed into a few frenzied days. We stumbled through the required actions and argued with nurses about our goals for getting home.
And now we breathe easier. The remnant humidity of summer makes it seem like our house is welcoming us to the new normal. The night we brought Finley home, we went for an evening walk and were beholden to no one. He was cordless. Sitting in the couch by the front window, listening to a baby playlist, was almost too much in its beautiful simplicity.
We did have some lingering hurdles the first few days home. Finley needed a “bili blanket” to break down the bilirubin that causes jaundice. We’d hook him up for a a few hours at a time and he glowed like an adorable alien. He also needed doses of Vitamin D as well as formula for extra hydration, so I got to elbow in for some father feeding sessions. A couple pediatric visits later and he’s back on track.
Now we are enjoying the strange, unique days of time off work to find our new patterns. When we did this last time we called it a vacation, and indeed the residual humidity of summer recalls those weeks in our small Minneapolis apartment. Nights bring the dull headaches of fragmented sleep, but the fulfillment Laura gets from Finley’s excellent breastfeeding skills lifts the pain. I do have to coax her to rest more, which is only partly successful because of her superwoman syndrome.
The days often have at least one key appointment or errand tacked to them, otherwise they seem like a constant Saturday with Isaac, who finally returned to us after an extended stay with the grandparents (visits that he absolutely loves, every time). The meeting of the brothers last Sunday was sweet enough to make you crumble. Isaac had a lot of baby prep leading up to this event, so he seemed to know instantly what was going on. He is playful and curious, and loves pointing out Finley’s nose, eyes, ears (has to find both), and poop (his butt, sometimes decorated with a cartoon animal). The verdict is still out on whether Isaac thinks this is a long babysitting stint or that a newcomer is really here to stay. For now, he helps with diapers and checks on “my baby” when he overhears us discussing his brother.
We haven’t had visitors yet, though we don’t feel the need to keep Finley in quite the same bubble like we did with Isaac, who was far more fragile when he came home. The new guy has been out into the world a few times, to the grocery store and mall where he gets nice comments, and even back to the hospital yesterday because we had to return a breast pump. We were fed and showered (with the exception of Finley, who hasn’t yet had a bath on this earth) and walked with confidence through the familiar locations. We sensed the pressures of the previous week, hovering nervous and ghostlike around us. Isaac came too, and we revisited the little hospital park that he knew. Laura sat in the shade and fed Finley on no schedule at all, just at the whims of his urges. I watched Isaac play in the sun, and even when he ran too fast and fell hard on the cement, there was no true distress. He was pained for an instant, but we were back in the realm of daily cuts and bruises, the kinds we could heal ourselves.