Most of the time spent at a hospital, is time that you do not want to spend at a hospital.
In fact, 100% of the time there, I could think of a million other places that I'd rather be.
However, aside from the obvious moments of when your son's surgeon comes out after a successful procedure, or finding out your baby's esophagus grew a miraculous, unexplainable amount in a matter of weeks... there are still moments, and people that are worth remembering, and looking back on and smiling,
These are our moments...
Our biggest moment, living in the hospital, was the very first time we were able to take Adam out of his room - the obs room. He needed constant observation, so we didn't even have a private room the majority of our stay. He also needed constant suction through his replogle to clear his secretions or he would choke. So he was always attached to the suction in the wall.
We were however able to take mobile suction units and go for walks, or hang out on the hallway of our floor - with a nurse at first, and then without one (as long as we stayed on the floor).
The first time we got to do this, was amazing. Seeing Adam see daylight for the first time, looking out the big windows, seeing the sun and the clouds, the cars and the people. It was amazing,
It taught us that we should never take anything for granted, and to appreciate the little things, for they are big things. These moments, so simple, that everyone overlooks, were so monumental and big for us. A lesson that we will always remember, and often to this day still reflect upon.
Another moment that deserves mention, is many moments put into one. My two aunts would travel hours to come and visit Adam and I once a week, every single week, without fail, no matter the weather. They would bring lunch and just sit and visit, and chat. I'd cry, they'd force me to eat. They helped me survive. I am forever grateful and thankful for them.
My Cousin worked down the road, and he too would visit weekly. It got to the point where he knew my pumping schedule and would grab me a cookie and a coffee, and come up when I was done to spend some time with me and Adam. Often sweating in his suit, he'd stay and visit. It was an easy decision for us to make him and his Fiancee Adam's Godparents.
In this picture is that cousin and his fiancee (Adam's Godparents), his parents (my Godparents) and brother, as well as my parents and my brother. These are our people. This is what family looks like. The people who are there for you no matter what, no matter when. The people who show up the morning after you give birth, who wait outside the hospital during surgery and procedures. Who make you fresh sandwiches and drive them down on a Wednesday in the rain. Who take five different public transit vehicles to visit you. Who drag you out to eat and get you drunk on an entire pitcher of sangria, leaving you with the nurses who think it's hilarious and well deserved.
This is our home team. We'd get together monthly, usually on the 13th (Adam was born on the 13th of April) and we would go to dinner, to celebrate another month down, another month closer to home.
These are the people in our happy memories. The people who made our time there bearable, survivable.
My other two aunts deserve the biggest mention in the world as well, because they visited more than anyone else, and I can never ever thank them enough. Our family is what got us through.
I think of happy memories at the hospital, and I think of these people and these moments.
Kayla mentioned, there is nothing more important than a support system when you’re living in a hospital. Like Kayla my family was a huge support system for me but so with the family in the bedside next to us.
As I mentioned earlier, I became very close with the mom beside me in the NICU with Theo. Stephanie has been such an inspiration to me and a huge support in my life over the last 4 1/2 years. She always knows what to say, can make a joke even in the most difficult situations, and has the kindest heart. There were so many dark days in the NICU but there were also some positive memories. Here is a picture of one of our nurses holding our babies together. This was such a special moment for us because despite being so physically close together, we had never been side-by-side with our babies. It was so wonderful to have our babies side-by-side as it allowed us to do what so many new moms do together - take a picture of their babies side-by-side. Every time I see this picture I tear up and remember that magical moment.
Attached is a picture of us celebrating Canada Day in the 5B hallway at SickKids. It was a beautiful day and we are both so bummed about our situation and living in the hospital. I went out and got some cute Canada Day clothes for the babies and we had a blast taking family pictures.
Another amazing memory is when the therapy clown would sing to us. When we were both in the 5B floor at SickKids, we’d make “play dates” where we would hold our babies at a particular time and the clown will come and sing to us. We had so much fun with the clown and it not only calmed the babies, but brought so much joy to us. We would joke all the time that Stephanie’s daughter Naya and Theo were boyfriend and girlfriend and the clown would play at their wedding. These moments may seem small and insignificant but these POSITIVE memories while living through the thick of it will last a lifetime.
Lastly one of my favorite memories of when Theo was in the hospital was the FIRST time I got to walk with him! Despite still being hooked up to many tubes and wires, with the help of our nurse, we carefully placed him in a baby carrier and I was able to stroll around the hospital and GO OUTSIDE - this was a HUGE sept for me as it allow me to really feel like a mom <3
Let's talk about feelings today.
The ones that no one ever talks about.
I'll start by telling you about how one of our favourite nurses used to force me to sit outside on her lunch hour. She'd often sit with me, or make me promise that I'd be there by the time she came back. (One time I wasn't, because a bird pooped on my arm lol! And everyone on the unit knew I was back early and gave me crap about it - no pun intended lol!)
But I used to sit outside, on the NW corner of SickKids, close to the entrance in case I had to run back in… forcing myself to get some air, because everyone was saying that I had to.
I'd watch the birds, squirrels, and people walk by.
I hated watching people walk by.
I hated seeing mom's with their strollers and their healthy babies, oblivious to what was going on just steps away inside SickKids. I hated seeing UppaBaby strollers that looked like mine on the sidewalk - where mine should be, but isn't.
I was so damn mad at the people who could just get up and walk around, who could feel the air and the sunshine. Who could literally just pick up their baby or child and buckle them into a carseat and take them anywhere, at any moment, with nothing to worry about.
Why do these people get to walk around with their healthy child and I don't?!
They have NO idea what is going on behind those walls. Look at her with her Starbucks, her purse, her shopping bag. Going home to sit on her couch, cook dinner, play with her baby. Sleep in her own damn bed.
How is any of this fair?!
I used to HATE sitting outside.
I felt robbed. I felt robbed of every experience, even something as simple as feeling the summer air on our faces. Adam doesn't get to, he's stuck in an obs room tethered to the wall with monitors and suctions.
We were robbed of so damn much. Spring. Seeing the flowers bloom. Summer. Going to cottages, playing in the sand, boat rides. Events. Concerts, weddings, celebrations. Holidays. Our first Mother's Day and Father's Day were spent in a hospital room. We didn't celebrate our first Thanksgiving.
But it was the simple things.
The walks. The car rides. The fresh air. The wind. The sun. The birds and the squirrels. We were so robbed.
And going back into SickKids was just as bad. Because after feeling all of those hurtful, angry, sad, depressing, frustrated feelings… I'd walk back in and then feel guilt.
Guilt because I will get to go home. I'll be the one who is picking up my son and strapping him into a carseat at any given moment. Taking the stroller out and breathing the fresh air.
The guilt was consuming. Because all of the anger I just felt, was like a slap in the face once I walked through those doors and saw parents with children who were sicker than Adam. Who may not ever make it out of those walls. Who are bound to a wheelchair.
AND HERE I AM AGAIN THINKING, "Kayla you get to experience it, you're home now, stop complaining"...
It's a bitch.
Don't do it.
It gets us nowhere.
We are ALL entitled to our feelings. Our pain and suffering is SO VALID. No matter what. There will always be someone who has it worse than us. But in the kindest way possible - that's not our story to worry about. We need to focus on our own. We need to acknowledge our own pain and our own suffering and validate our own feelings. No one can tell you how to feel. No matter what those feelings are - they are real, they are valid. They are yours. Own them.
I literally just had this conversation with my therapist, and it was one that really hit hard. You don't need to compare your suffering. Your feelings are real, and they matter. Even those feelings of hate, jealously, pain, suffering, guilt.
They're valid, even if we don't want to agree with them.
Brene Brown has a podcast episode dedicated to comparative suffering.
Even just googling it, there are a ton of resources, opinions, and experiences.
It helps knowing that we are not alone in our thoughts and our feelings, even if we are validating them for ourselves, it's always nice to know there are other people who 'get it' and that we are not alone.
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