365 to Sunshine

Holy crap that was fast.

I’ve been trying to write this post for about the last month or so and kept coming up with nothing. The best way for me to fix that is to just start typing. That’s probably why my first two words were holy and crap. But yeah, holy crap.

My little girl is a year old.

Take me back 365 days and I promise you I would not have been able to see this day in front of me. 365 days ago, we were just concentrating on making it to day 2. Then 3. Simply trying to snowball it up. But I don’t want this post to be about the events that occurred 365 days ago. That’s been documented here. Just scroll down a few posts if you haven’t read the moments of a year ago. This particular post needs to be about everything that has brought us to where we are today. A little baby and her determination to grow up and for all to take notice at just how awesome life can be. Today we are celebrating our little daughters first birthday. A sunshine party.

It’s amazing what you learn in that first year as parents. You are automatically tuned into everything around your kid. The same dogs that you loved unconditionally before your kid shows up you now kick in the stomach when they go in for a face licking feast on your kid. (no we don’t “kick” our dogs).

You absolutely die inside when they get sick.

You can be having the absolute worst day, and still melt when you watch her reach for you.

It’s amazing how happy the can genuinely be, with that much poop in their diaper.

You want everything to start right now. The crawling, walking and talking. But you get sad when they rip the bottle from your hand to do it themselves.

You need a break, some parent time, but instantly miss her the second you drive away.

You are terrified to drive on a 15 hour trip with your 10 month old and marvel at the fact that she handled the journey better than her parents did.

The first time you take her out to eat to a restaurant, and a stranger stops to let you know just how well behaved your daughter is, mentioning that she would know because she’s a grandmother.

This list could get freakishly long and I’m a believer that blog posts are usually better short, what with the attention spans of this generation and what not. So let me end with one more. And it will stay with me forever.

I’ll never in my mind have enough days with her.

It’s pretty much the most sombering thought possible. To love someone so much and know you will leave them at some point against your will. And the lesson there I suppose is to make every day count. I’m just really sad about that next day.

Again, I still can’t believe 365 days have come and gone so slow at times and like lightening at times. To say I would have wanted this year any different is a tricky thing. Of course, any NICU parent would not want the issues that struggle can bring. And your heart truly breaks for those struggling parents and babies. I can’t put enough emphasis on that. Genuine heartbreak. But for the truly lucky, it’s amazing what some of us get to have on the other side of the isolette. A healthy, smiling, happy baby who now is just dying to tell us all about it at any moment.

Happy very first birthday my little love.

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Daycare

When you have a baby, you forget about things. Mostly, you forget about your sophisticated and oh so important television watching regime. Your DVR surpasses to a billion percent compacity simply because you’d rather watch your kid and make sure she’s 1. Breathing. 2. Breathing effortlessly. (The NICU really does a number on you.) You also forget about things. You forget that things that you should figure out ahead of time. Namely, the daycare situation. It was a given that we would keep her home throughout the RSV flu season which was to end in April or May. When you have a few months before sending your kid to live with strangers weekly, you forget that you’re on the waiting list to one daycare. One. Then life starts pushing you around and you get a call from that one daycare telling you that any chance of an open spot is highly unlikely. And then they shut their door in your face. But before that, they did give you a recommendation of a place we should inquire about. “It’s a great place, blah, blah, blah” SHUT. This was not good news. That next week would be the start of us taking turns being off work until we found a place. The stress was thick.

We called the place to set up a tour that day which was a Friday. We go tour a daycare center at 5:30pm on a Friday. That’s good and bad. Good because you see the place at the most hectic time. Bad because that’s a lot of kidsinoneplace. For me. We talked with the owner and teachers and they instantly fell for our baby because she decided to bring the smile machine. I was hoping it would help secure a spot.

The owner went to grab the waiting list for newborns and the list was gone. Turns out, the other owner had taken the list home with her because she was going to be calling on the waiting list for new kiddos. We were filling out paperwork when we hear “there’s a spot open?” We started watching her like a hawk. Less paperwork, more hawk.

I couldn’t get the checkbook out fast enough. We paid for our first and last week. We walked out extremely relieved and thankful. And terrified. We realized much like her entrance into the world, we weren’t ready. Our baby was going to start daycare that next Monday.

I knew Monday would be difficult. You could see it on both of our faces. But not on our baby’s face. From the second we arrived to the room and even as we were walking out, her smile could not be big enough. It didn’t seem fair. She’s in there giggling and we’re doing dead man walking back to our cars. Dejected.

One good thing is that they will text you pics throughout the day. We both knew she likes to smile but we did not know she likes to laugh. On video. For strangers. Laughing.

It’s a process of getting through these initial steps of letting some control go. The whole thing about it all going by so fast is dead on fact. She JUST learned to grab at things. She JUST learned to roll over. Now she’s laughing.

But she’s happy. A very happy baby. And that will never get old. For us or for our new trusted strangers.

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6 months

We are closing in on 6 months with this kid. Just a few days away. Crazy. To bring a 28 week old baby into the world, 6 months is a pretty big sigh of relief moment. I wanted to write a lot about these first months of her life. I wanted to.

Here’s the thing: every time I would start to write, I was reminded of how it all began. It would bring be back to that place. How nervous and anxious we both were. How with every step forward she took in the hospital, we were waiting for that setback to come. And it never did.

For some reason, with this 6 month marker, I finally feel okay to take a deep breath and smile when she’s grinning at me ear to ear. To not panic when she’s tired and has seemingly placed her finger in her eyeball. I can shorten the number of times I go in to make sure her belly is moving up and done as she breathes but something feels me I’ll still do that for many many years. I get to continue to watch her learn new things like rolling over twice in a row and then when she has an audience of three, acts like she’s never even heard of rolling over in her life and bawls her eyes out. I’m loving the fact that the day my wife went back to work, she started sleeping through the night. How she really isn’t happy in her swing as much since she now loves to reach for things. Or how attaching a small mirror to the top of her floor play mat will allow her to smile at herself and coo for over an hour at a time.

And at the same time, while we are completely basking in this child’s glow, we still feel the stories of little ones we hear and read about in the NICU. I believe that once you’ve experienced it, you never want to again…but your heart is forever changed. All those fighting babies. And to be completely honest, I’ve struggled with this. I’ve struggled with thinking why our baby was in the hospital for over 6 weeks and never had a setback. What made her the lucky one when so many others simply don’t make it out of the hospital. It will make you resent yourself when you question those kinds of things. And I still haven’t come to terms with a definite answer. But you won’t find a more thankful father. You won’t find a father who wants the absolute best for his baby. She has completely changed many outlooks on life for me. I see it every morning that I pick her up to change her and she won’t stop grinning.

So, 6 months in. Can you imagine how I’ll be when she turns one?

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