Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I have two worlds, two families. One is the “normal world and normal family.” It’s the one that everyone recognizes. It’s where my kids go to school and I go shopping. It’s where I do laundry and house cleaning, when I can’t convince my kids to do it. It’s Thursdays at the school concert, Saturdays on the soccer pitch, and Sundays in church.
Then I have my other world. It’s my new normal. It’s a hospital room in my living room. It’s beeps and bells and spreadsheets to keep track of medicines. It’s knowing what the different readings on medical equipment mean, and how to adjust his settings so they come out right. It’s inviting registered nurses into my home at night so that I can sleep for a few hours.
This world is made up of people I’ve never met in person, but who uphold me and love me just the same. We’re a diverse group. Some are married, some divorced, at least a couple are widowed, and some have never married. We are Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, Lutheran, Jewish, and I’m not sure what else. Some believe in heaven while others may not be quite as sure about the afterlife. But somehow, I think we all believe our babies still live on.
This is a different family.
In the “normal” world, we raise our kids, go to Little League games and dance recitals. We endure PTA meetings, work meetings, and parent/teacher conference where we find out whether or not our kid actually turned in the homework we stood over them as they completed. We deal with kids’ squabbles and rejoice when they play nicely.
In our “other family,” we watch oxygen saturations and look for the tiny signs that signal big problems. We are on a first name basis with many medical professionals and our local firefighters. Our babies think the hospital is their home away from home. We know more about medical tests and the results than most nurses, and even some doctors. We pick up on those small changes and know which ones to worry about and which don’t mean much at all.
We cheer when our babies smile, or are released from the hospital. We cry and scream in pain when they are released from this life. Because, no matter how often we hear “incompatible with life,” that phrase is just incompatible with comprehension. Because babies aren’t meant to be buried. They’re meant to be cuddled. Children shouldn’t have more medical specialists than they have friends. Parents can’t have to know more than the medical professionals who have spent years and years studying. But we do all this. And because we have each other, we can go on.
We laugh at each other, and at our kids when they do something funny. We counsel with each other when yet another strange symptom appears. And we cry and grieve with each other when yet another angel flies home before his or her parents. I don’t know if we can actual consol each other. It’s a pain I don’t know yet, but I know it’s so very individual to each person. Just because you’ve been stabbed through the heart also, doesn’t mean we both feel it the same way. So we muddle through, loving and praying for each other. And somehow, we build these bonds, these bridges, that help us cross to the other side. To a world none of us ever dreamed we’d be part of. But one where we can know love in a more pure form that I ever dreamed of.