What a whirlwind our last 47 hours have been. Since Avett was born, the hospital, nurses, and doctors have managed our expectations to be able to bring Avett home around his c-section due date: March 20th. Of course, all of that was subject to change at any given moment with any number of possible setbacks. Setbacks like heart murmurs.
A Failed Test
About 47 hours ago, Ellie and her friends had come to see Avett through the looking glass and had just left. Then, I had left the hospital to run some much-needed errands while Tyler was about to go into the NICU to feed Baby Brother. They told Tyler they wanted to do the “car seat test.” I was shocked because they typically do that much later… closer to the time we were to be discharged. Nonetheless, we got excited about the idea of an early release if he passed his test. The test involves being placed in a car seat while hooked up to the monitors that check his heart rate, O2, etc., to make sure he could handle being in it.
Well, he failed it.
Try, Try Again
Maybe he’s not a good test taker. I get that. I remember freezing up during a spelling test in 2nd grade, and I was a great speller. However, I honestly wasn’t surprised when he failed it. It was because, in typical Avett fashion, every ten minutes or so he has to take a big deep breath to catch up on oxygen, but it dips a little before he does so. That was enough to trigger the fail, but he didn’t give up! We tried a different car seat (it was Scout’s infant car seat, instead of the new, store-bought 5-40 lb one). It worked! He did great in the infant car seat. He passed the test!
A Face-to-Face Encounter
Yesterday afternoon, one of the NICU nurses told Tyler they want to advance Avett to the in-room stay. This is huge for a lot of reasons. 1) he is completely unplugged. 2) he is out from beyond the looking glass. 3) it’s the final stage before discharge!
My heart warmed when Tyler put the puzzle pieces together on my behalf: that meant that Scout would finally meet her brother face-to-face. And then it downright melted when that happened before my very eyes.
I was at home with Scout when I got that text message. When I told Scout the news, we had the following conversation:
Scout: (whispers) do you think I could change clothes?
Me: (whispers) sure… what are you thinking?
Scout: (still whispering) maybe… Elsa?
Me: (still whispering) Elsa?
Scout: (probably annoyed that her dad didn’t immediately pickup on her idea): my Elsa dress.
Me: (whispering) absolutely.
As a parent, and as a photographer, you form visions about what certain moments should look like. I knew the first meeting between Avett and Scout would be a big deal, and I had her adorable denim dress dry cleaned and ready for wear when the time came. I pictured morning or early afternoon, with the natural light pouring in from the hospital windows.
Well, at 6:40pm last night, in her fanciest dress, Scout met Avett. I will look back at that moment and remember how important it was to HER that she looked her best to meet him. And this dress made her feel like a queen, and it was the only dress that would do.
It wasn’t at all how I pictured it. It wasn’t the most Instagram-able moment with perfect lighting and perfect hair (oh, I put her hair in a braid… kind of). But it was definitely a perfect moment for this dad.
But Wait… What About that Little Hole in His Heart?
I’m really great at not getting ahead of myself. After decades of practice, I know that having best-case-scenario mindsets can lead to heartaches and tears. In almost every case, disappointment of some degree ensues. That’s why I appreciate when nurses, doctors, parents, wedding planners, and photographers have the ability to manage a person’s expectations.
In all the excitement of in-room staying, car seat test passing, and face-to-face meetings, we all forgot that Baby Brother had a heart murmur that hasn’t been checked out yet. This morning, after being told throughout the night that if he did well he would get to go home, the doctor came in to tell us she was ordering the “echo” (echocardiogram). She assured us that it probably wasn’t a major murmur and that he would still likely be heading home.
The worrier in me spiraled as I peeked over the lady’s shoulders at the machine looking at my son’s heart. Every beat. Every flash of white I saw on screen. Finally, I asked her to tell me about what she was seeing. I remember enough biology from college to be dangerous, so I needed someone to break it down before I, well, broke down. After the procedure, she looked at us confidently and said, “A+”
From failing a test to an A+ in 24 hours? Sounds like a Benfield.
For the first two years of Scout’s life, we had a nighttime routine that ended with Tyler nursing Scout while singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Now, I’ll never be able to listen to that song without overwhelming fondness in my heart. Maybe Baby Brother’s song could also be a Simon and Garfunkle classic: homeward bound.
Today around noon, I carried Avett out of our room at Northwest Medical Center for the last time. We waved and hugged the nurses who cared for our baby boy since February 25th. We made promises to come visit. And maybe even cried a little.
We loaded up the car with a suitcase full of clothes and milk and made our way home.
For ten years, I signed off blogging each night with “talk to you soon” because I promised to talk to you again tomorrow. Lately, I’ve been signing off with “thanks for being here.” This blog wouldn’t exist without you. I’m thankful for you, and have such gratitude that I get to share my life, my photography, and my heart with you.
Thank YOU for being here,