Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coming Home (Our Story--Part V)

Leaving the hospital with Bridget was the most exciting celebration I could have imagined. We had all ached so much over not having her home with us just after she was born, and the back-and-forth trips to Children’s were grueling—and meant that our family was separated.

The anticipation built as the doctors began hinting that Bridget was close to meeting the requirements for discharge.

Activity at home was brisk and purposeful on that big, beautiful August day. The “WELCOME BRIDGET” banner was hung from our porch, and little paper butterflies were tied into the bushes at the front of the house (for our little butterfly, who emerged and captivated us all).

The kids happily put on their pink t-shirts—the ones they were supposed to wear to meet their baby sister when she was born. Having to wait to bring her home made the moment even sweeter. We’d already had a chance to preview our newest family member for a month before bringing her home, so we knew the prize we were winning.

I'll never forget that day...the sunlight was bright and soft at the same time, and the air was crisp. I remember feeling that the world had shifted into just that place for us. I was breathing yes.

Chris and I spent the day in required back-to-back presentations on basic parenting skills, and learning our specific home-going instructions. In between, we were visualizing all of the opportunities our future held—a stark contrast to the day Bridget was born, when all we could do was trust that things would be okay. We were hopeful all along, but the day we came home with Bridget we were certain there was reason to expect that we would all be more than fine.

Piece by piece, the entrapments of the hospital were removed. Bridget’s I.V. came out, her monitors were unhooked, and we were allowed to dress her in her own clothes. It was the first time I could actually carry her away from her bed. I almost felt like I was doing something wrong as I walked into the hallway with Bridget in my arms. We were free.

When it was time to leave, we said our good-byes while walking around her hospital floor as a group—like we were in a parade. It was our own little victory lap. We were waving, and the nurses were standing in the doorways and lining the hall. They were clapping and smiling, and waving back. We stopped every few feet for hugs, and for brief exchanges with the many medical professionals we had met during our stay. We’d had four other babies, and had never left for home with that much attention, or with more people genuinely wishing us well. It was a sign of the love and support for Bridget and for us—and of the great things to come.

We settled in quickly once we got home, and before long it seemed like years had passed since thinking about the future made our stomachs hurt, and since being without Bridget made our hearts so heavy. She was right there with us, in the little bassinet behind the living room couch that had been empty too long.

Making it over that hurdle, we all felt a huge sense of accomplishment, relief and joy. We had all made it through, with Bridget leading the way. I had a feeling we’d be following her often from then on…

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