We’ve hit the 3rd anniversary of a pretty traumatic event: aka Zoey’s birthday. Pretty much as soon as summer hits, I start remembering all the things I did with Tera and some of the events we had going on during this same time three years ago and as it got closer to the actual date I found myself spacing out and realizing what things are triggers and how seemingly insignificant things can actually be powerful reminders.
This summer has been really nice. We were able to take the girls on their first real vacation and when they’re home with me, we spend a lot of our time outside where they play in their pool and on their swingset. I’ve been able to work out, get some work done, and in general, not feel as though I have something to get done every minute of every day.
But in between those relaxing, enjoyable times, are the memories. Last month as I was driving to the grocery store after having dropped the girls at daycare, the particular road I was driving on, at the time of day, with the particular weather, made me flashback to my daily drives to Evanston Hospital. I would drop Tera off at daycare, then begin my 40 minute commute to see my new baby. After a little while, the neighborhood of Wilmette began to feel like my own, because I would drive it almost every day and was always thinking about my family in some form or another; who I was leaving behind, who I was getting to see, who was with me, or who might be visiting that day.
Each day I would pull into the familiar parking garage that at one point a year before I had entered so cautiously because I didn’t know if my truck would fit or how it wound around. I now knew exactly which floor to go to, and which spots were the best ones for getting in and out. I would lug my suitcase full of pumping supplies, books, my laptop, and snacks inside ready for my day. I would walk across the lobby, down the escalator and to the cafe to pick up my morning coffee from the same person every morning. I would then head toward the maternity ward, take one of the insanely slow elevators up to the ISCU, check in at the front desk, scrub in, and head over to see my baby. I would catch up with the nurse who had Zoey for the day, hoping it was her head nurse, and see how her night went, if any changes were planned for the day, and settle in to wait for rounds. The rest of the day was spent holding her hands, and eventually hold her, pumping, eating, hoping to change her, talking to her, and running my hands over her tiny legs, arms, and face. Around 3pm I would get ready to head out, say my difficult goodbyes, stop and pick up my second coffee of the day, and head back to see my other girl. For nine weeks we lived two different lives; at home without Zoey and at the hospital without Tera.
Fast forward three years. The same child that once needed machines to feed her and breathe for her, refuses help with turning on lights, putting on shoes, getting on the potty, and climbing into and out of the car, and so many more things. The child that spent 9 weeks in ICU didn’t qualify for Early Intervention, had a brief stint in speech therapy, but whose language is exploding more and more every day. The child that had been on thyroid medication since her first week of life should now be finished with it. That little girl who seemed so frail and weak, so dependent on everyone for everything, is now the most stubborn, hard-headed, determined, and independent three year old I know.
At three years old, Zoey Theodore Theodore (Zoey two times as she likes to say), knows her whole name, her birthday, and how old she is. She weighs 28 lbs, is 37 inches tall, is potty trained, can count to about 15, can ride her tricycle, can climb out of her crib, just had her first real swim lesson, and starts gymnastics next week. Some of these things may not seem incredible for a three year old, but most of them impress us. Either way, considering that she started out at 2.5 lbs, 14 inches long, with transparent skin, a ventilator for nine days, and spent a total of 63 days in the NICU, she’s pretty damn impressive.