24 October 2010

Home Sweet Home

Blogosphere beware:  I've figured out how to type with one arm and nurse Ainslie with the other.  The fact that I have a pretty respectable one-handed typing speed only helps this phenomenon of parenthood.  So here we are on the couch, Ainslie and me.  She woke up cold (the biggest post-NICU battle we've had to fight: realizing that the NICU was practically a sauna and trying to keep her warm enough in our not so sauna-y apartment) and hungry, so I brought her to the living room, popped some cinnamon rolls in the oven for me and Kip (which I've decided is to be our new Sunday morning tradition), and set up in the sunlight that's streaming through the window and onto the couch.  

She's never felt the sunlight on her face before.  
I am LOVING sharing this experience with her.

Obviously, we are home.  The trip was an adventure of epic proportions, and it was totally worth the hassle of carrying a two-week-old baby with assorted two-week-old baby accessories through the Anchorage airport if only to watch the looks of horror on the faces of the two young TSA guys who had to do a liquids check on the breastmilk in Ainslie's diaper bag.  It was absolutely priceless.  She didn't utter a peep on the plane (thanks in part, I'm sure, to a phenobarbital-induced nap) and in fact handled the entire flight much better than the three year old a few rows in front of us. ::Tear::  I'm so proud.

Something interesting happened on our way home, though.  We were putting ourselves back together past security, still snickering at the TSA guys' ookiness around perfectly natural bodily fluids ("And this is formula?" asked the agent, peering into the cooler.  "No, it's breastmilk" I say as the color drains from his face and he reaches for a pair of latex gloves with undue haste) when a blonde woman who'd been staring at Ainslie from across the terminal approached us.  "Are you the Cheshire family?" she asked.
Kip and I looked at each other, raising eyebrows.  "Uh, yes"
She looked down at Ainslie and back at us, "You probably don't remember me, but I was in the room when your daughter was born.  I've been so worried about her and we've all been wondering how she's been doing.  I was at the hospital in Anchorage for the past few days doing some work and I meant to stop by and see how she was doing, but I never got the chance.  I don't think I ever caught what you decided to name her."  
We grinned at her and chatted for a minute, giving her such obvious updates as, "Well, we're on the way home!"and "She's doing pretty well!"  I blame our lack of skill in the art of conversation on sleep deprivation and the utter shock of meeting this woman at the airport of all places (although I shouldn't have been--in Alaska, you can't go to an airport without seeing at least two people you know...we saw our second acquaintance at the gate).  Her presence was just such a tangible reminder of all the people who have touched us through this catastrophe, a number that is, if all the people who told us they're praying and asked their churches to pray really did so, literally in the hundreds.  The amount of kindness and generosity shown to us by friends and family and even complete strangers, the donated money and meals and prayers and flowers and stuffed animals with notes of encouragement, has been humbling and uplifting at the same time.  We're forever changed by it.

So here's the conclusion:  Ainslie was sent up to Anchorage because of the meconium in her lungs at birth.  She stayed because the doctors realized that she also needed treatment for head trauma from the labor (to put it lightly--I couldn't make a list of all the problems if I tried).  But now she's home.  She has my nose and Kip's hair and has proven to me that the quirky faces people make have to be genetic, because she has given me the "I'm thinking really hard about something" scowl that Kip makes and the "Are you serious?" eyebrow raise that I do about a million times now.  She's doing much better than she was three weeks ago, and we have about a dozen doctor's appointments and occupational therapist's numbers and neonatologist checkups to make sure that she continues to do well in the next few months.

I came to a realization as I hung up all our "Congratulations on your new arrival!" cards this morning.  Well, I came to two realizations:  First, that running around cleaning my entire apartment at five in the morning while the baby and my husband are both finally sleeping felt refreshingly normal and glorious;  Second, that this is our time to celebrate.  Three weeks ago, Kip didn't get the chance to pass out "It's a Girl" cigars because he was on a MediVac flight.  I didn't get to hold our baby and read her the blessing we'd wanted to and bond with this little person I'd been growing for (at that point) ten and a half months.  Ainslie wasn't well enough to be held until she was two days old, and I didn't even meet her until the fourth day.  But now that we're home, we can be a family.  We can bond and play and hold her nonstop, pass out cigars or candy bars or whatever it is that people pass out these days in celebration of a birth, put up an obnoxious amount of pink balloons in front of the house to announce to all passers-by that we are the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl.  I like that.  Ainslie and I are celebrating this revelation with a sunny nursing session, while the cinnamon rolls burn because I don't want to disturb her to go get them out of the oven.  Later today the three of us are planning on going for a walk in the sunshine before it gets cloudy again, and then we'll bring her to the night service at church.  It's good now.  We're home.


Jeanne said...

I'm so happy for you and Kip and Ainslie. May peace and endearing love be yours forever.
Love, Mrs. P.

Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing and updating. I've been stalking your blog for the past few days, hoping for an update on how you all are doing. :) I'm glad to hear that life is feeling more normal now and Ainslie is doing well. Enjoy your new-parents bragging time! You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Karilyn said...

Wow....what a debacle! Glad you're all home safe and sound!

SD Barbers said...

So happy for you, Kip and Ainslie. Enjoy!

GingerV said...

first - what the heck are you doing eating only a donut or sweet roll or whatever, while feeding Ainslie. you need GOOD nutrition too.

2nd - thank God you are all safe

3rd - you write so well - I think you are the only blogger I know that I read every word, most I skip through anything more than a paragragh.

Jennifer said...

Im so happy for your Cindy. :)

NanU said...

Congratulations to all!
Aw, lighten up Ginger. A cinnamon roll each Sunday isn't going to harm anyone, as long as that's not -all- you eat. A little bit of everything is really best.

Kasey said...

You finally get your walk.

Love it.

Cindy said...

Don't worry, ladies, I have plenty of fruits and vegetables and we have friends bringing us a nutritious dinner each night so we aren't starving and I'm not vicariously feeding Ainslie a bunch of junk. :)

beth said...

Love that you are all home. I have been checking every day to find out how everything is going. Your little girl is precious.

And eat your spinach and broccoli. Nursing burns like 700 calories a day...or something crazy like that. :)

Laura said...

glad your family is home!!

Heather said...

Bonjour, ma cherie! You and your daughter are so precious. I'm so glad you're home. Give Ainslie and Kip tons of hugs from me! (and give some to yourself, as well--36hrs of labor plus c-section is a marathon)

Love you and thinking of your family always,
Heather Martha