I don’t want to forget a second of those 22 days. Even though most were spent with a sleeping babe, and beeping machines.
How I wish I took more photos, and videos especially. My darn phone at the time didn’t have much storage, so videos filled it up fast.
We really didn’t think she was going to pass. She was healing. She was going to come home. We were going to have a little time to make memories still. This was just the NICU stay, there would be a home part to her story.
She was going to smell our home and get licked by her pooch. Finally get to meet ALL of her family and friends that were so excited to see her, as I kept most away from the NICU thinking they would meet her at home. I wanted to take her in the woods this summer, to sit by the river I grew up at, taking in the fresh air. I longed to get her snug in the ergo carrier I’ve been saving just for her. I remember the night I texted my mom a photo of Eva’s clothes hanging in Max’s closet—“Look mom, I can actually put something up in our home for her.” The great unknown is now known, she’s coming home for a while.
I was going to forgo work and just sit with her. That’s ALL I wanted to do. I was going to memorize every speck of her for as long as we were gifted her. I would prop her up next to her brother while he watched TV, something I wouldn’t have done with him as a baby, but they would be making memories. I lowered my expectations. I studied what our life would be like by following other families on social media leading up to birth. The memories I long for don’t involve a typical child, they are how I see our days being with our life-limited daughter. Packing her to the ballpark to watch her brother play. Sitting next to the other mom with her daughter in the carrier that’s only a few months older than Eva.
I really thought we’d have more time, no matter how hard and messy it would be. I wish I sang to her, read to her and prayed over her more. More, more, more. I’m so scared to loose a speck of any experience while she was here. I have been an oral historian for almost two decades and understand the human memory is far from perfect. So I want to memorize the good, the bad and the surreal. Just as I tried to imprint to memory every detail of her teeny, tiny, 4 lb (with tubes) body as we held it for the last time. Something every parent who holds their dead baby does. That soft, lightly golden, nest of hair that covered her head with that smooth brain that we couldn’t fix.
I cherish our time with her so much, that I can’t imagine any new memories being any sweeter. I recognize how lucky we are. There are moments I replay in my mind that never really happened. When I tell my grandchildren about their aunt that died as a baby, will it be more lore than fact? Maybe I’m okay with that.