I showered with a Super Hero this morning. Two dinosaurs and a monster truck were there also, these forgotten sentries of innocence. We’re in hospital housing,in this case a beautiful Tudor home that has been converted into shared living space. The previous night behind these closed doors, we heard typical childhood fussing that most likely accompanied a vigorous hair washing.
Not at all an unusual scenario. Except this time, the bedtime routine was the last before a medical procedure, or possibly this child has a sibling in the hospital. It’s hard to say. Every family has a different story. I wasn’t at all annoyed; it’s not like I haven’t showered with a dinosaur before. I only felt sad that this child had to bathe in an unfamiliar place and that this parent must have been physically and emotionally exhausted by the end of the day having to care for a medically needy child. I didn’t notice a T-Rex and isn’t that every child’s favorite? What if he was left at home, and how long will this child and his favorite pre-historic carnivore be separated?
The trappings of a normal life stand in juxtaposition to the world that shouldn’t be; a world of children in hospitals.
Garreth and I had a very Marty McFly moment last night. We met ourselves of 12 years ago in the communal kitchen. A young couple arrived at the hospital late last night having taken a bus from their small town up north. They had their two year daugher in tow; she was slowly taking in her new surroundings. Garreth, having been there all of one hour, instantly started showing them around and making sure they were fed. They started regaling us with tales of their hometown NICU and how their newborn son had already been there for 100 days. “Can you believe it,” their eyes said, “100 days!” This doesn’t really happen in the real world. No one should be expected to go through that. Country folk waiting for a chance to be with their new son in a big city hospital. Their bodies and words held that surreal mixture of disbelief and courage. “I am surviving something I didn’t know existed.”
I get it, young beautiful innocent postpartum mom. I do. What you don’t know is that your strength will continue to surprise you; your husband will continue to be your closest teammate; you will feel overwhelmed and then you will dig down and rise up and fight for this son you are just getting to know. And then later, probably much later, you will sit back and weigh the absurdity of your story and be amazed that you were able to live though it.
After showering with a Super Hero, I poured myself a special cup of pumpkin spice coffee, a gift from a friend for this very occasion. We headed to the hospital to wait. Aidan has had the opportunity to drive all around We even found a set of musical stairs. He got in his last bit of pre surgery exercise by going up and down the stairs four times. Only then did we notice the wall mounted thingy that you can sit in your wheelchair and waves your arms around for the same musical effect.
We’re running an hour and a half behind. The doctor has recognized that his first patient of the day is precious as well and needs some extra time, attention, and care. We will wait. So far Aidan choose a really weird and possibly ugly cast color. He’ll be in it for 6 weeks so really, it’s his choice.
The pre-op nurse if fabulous. There’s just something about pediatric medical folks. She spoke to Aidan, making small talk and asking the important questions. She noticed it was his birthday soon and I remarked that this was a pretty awful gift. She said, “No, no. When his birthday comes around next week he will be on his way to healing and getting stronger. Honey, I’m here to get you in the right head space for this surgery.”
Oh honey, I’ve been finding the right head space for twelve years.