I am always interested to hear how children came into this world—such an amazing event that is so common we sometimes consider it mundane. As this blog is allowing me to document some of my family’s history, I hope you might be interested in the story of Lucy’s arrival…
Born with fluid in her lungs, Lucy was whisked away as soon as she exited my body. Gone were the moments that so many women take for granted—having your baby placed on your chest, a slippery, gooey miracle screaming with its newfound lungpower; having your husband, tears in his eyes, cut the umbilical cord. Instead, she was just out of reach, a hastily summoned neonatologist intubating her on a cold table. Placed into my arms for mere seconds before she was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for what we were told would be only a brief overnight stay, I stared at her, completely terrified. Later, we would learn that she turned blue and stopped breathing three times during the first day of her life. Her stay in the NICU would not be brief.
During the time she spent in the hospital, Lucy was a hit. One of the only full-term babies in the unit, she would lie in her bassinet, eyes wide open, looking around the room, giving the nurses something to smile about in a room full of tiny, sleeping cherubs. It amazed me how comfortable they were, how they would feed her, change her, and bathe her without batting an eye, while I, her mother, sometimes felt helpless—as if I needed to ask permission just to hold her.
When Lucy finally came home, no cause ever determined for those frightening events, Cody and I looked at each other in the same way that I’m sure countless other new parents do: What do we do with her now? Only, it seemed even scarier after she’d been so beautifully cared for in the NICU. What if we messed up? What if we were completely inadequate parents? She still didn’t quite feel like she was ours and now we were supposed to anticipate her every need.
In the blurry, sleep-deprived days that followed, we muddled through. I’m sure we didn’t always get it right, but after awhile we felt pretty certain that we knew what her cries meant. What we lacked in spot-on parental instinct, we made up for with love. And those around us showed her that same love.
A family friend wrote: She has brought the rebirth of love to us all—histories of our baby arrivals, our own hospital setbacks, our true love stories. I have already seen these stories played out once more: my parents holding their granddaughter for the very first time; a first trip to the beach house where we’ve celebrated with family friends for two decades; the flash of her beautiful smile at my best friend the moment they met.
And now she is five, just a few weeks away from her first day of kindergarten. The baby we huddled over in that tiny NICU bassinet is on a march toward independence that is far too rapid for me to fully process. If only I could stop time, have her fall asleep on my shoulder once more. But time moves on. And come that first day of her newfound freedom, I’ll be there, camera in hand, capturing the moment—trying to hold on just a little longer.
Kelly Applegate Photography
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