This time last week we were bringing little Miss Riley home from the hospital anxious as all get out to start our life…again. I remember the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy I was SO ready to have her, beyond curious as to what having 2 children would be like and I felt like everything was on hold until she arrived. Little did I know her arrival home wouldn’t be long enough to normalize anything, our new normal struck at just 3 weeks and life no longer felt “on hold” it had flat out stopped. Our lives have been in this state of “stop” for 6 months, just hanging there in the balance…a balance of time, medications, treatment and a whole lot of hope. Driving home with Riley snoozing in the back seat Chris and I just kept looking at each other and saying “she’s really back there”…”this is so weird”. Every day spent at that hospital dragged on, the minutes seemed to drip like cold molasses but looking back the months flew by. I can’t believe it’s over. Hell I still can’t believe it happened at all. After a week at home I still find myself rushing to complete tasks because “I’m only going to be here one more night.” Ha. No, no I live here…all of the time with ALL of my family.
So million dollar question…How is Riley doing? She’s wonderful. Doing great. In awe of her sister. Amazed by her surroundings. And here’s the understatement of the year…she’s overwhelmed. It’s always been fascinating to watch a baby experience things for the first time but with Riley it is beyond…everything is new to her. Everything. She spit up a lot the first full day we were home (which is very abnormal for her) but by the end of the day it hit me…poor little girl was experiencing one helluva case of motion sickness. She’s never been carried further than 3 or 4 feet at a time and here we were carting her up and down stairs all with a wild curly haired flash bouncing off the walls around her. I’d lose my lunch too. Who’s kidding who my arms are sore from luggin’ her 19 pound butt all over the house.
The girls together are…oh man…I don’t even know how to describe it. Presley has been amazing, quite the helper but also knows when to step aside and let me concentrate. That kids intuition is incredible. I am so lucky to have her, so lucky she is the personality that she is. She grew up so much over the course of this ordeal…her maturity level and understanding is so far advanced, it’s blows me away. The independence, resilience and wisdom she has gained will serve her well as an adult but is sure to kick my ass during her teenage years.
Getting the daily routine down is so strange, managing everything and also decompressing from the turmoil we’ve been put through is an adjustment to say the least. Being on isolation is oddly tiring…you’d think staying home all day would be restful but we never sit. Never. It’s constant laundry, sanitizing, vacumming, dusting, cleaning, boiling, feeding, wiping, rocking, playing, breathing…oh yeah breathing…it’s necessary to put it on the list, I may forget if not. At the hospital everything was done for me…room cleaned, trash emptied, medications delivered, etc… There is not a single section of my soul that misses the food but damn if I don’t miss it being prepared and brought to me on a tray. I’ve always been flabbergasted by the amount of “stuff” babies require…I mean they are SO little, how do they make such messes!? Incredible. Keeping all of Riley’s toys, clothes, bowls, syringes, burp clothes, med supplies, etc… clean, sanitized and put away to avoid any “contamination” is an around the clock process. This week was hectic but I know we will get a routine or system of sorts in place and manage just fine. Really, if can handle what we’ve been through a little cleaning isn’t going to break us…right? Hmmm…hope not 😉 It does all still feel temporary, like Riley and I are visiting. With every load of laundry I hang Chris’ things yet out of habit fold mine to be packed…6 months of living out of a bag will do that to you. I’ll get there. Even Presley asked “Mommy is Riley going to stay with us for a little bit or for a long bit?” My response…“I think a long bit baby.” Hers…“YESSSSSS!” That doesn’t feel temporary, that feels permanent.
The nights are interesting..at the hospital I had to fall asleep with the assistance of headphones and netflix to drown out the noise but here at home it’s silent. No beeps. No codes. No nurse chatter. Eerie silence. I thought I’d welcome it, thought surely sleep would come easy. Not. At. All. I lay in bed trying to quiet my mind…that’s my nice way of telling my thoughts to “shut the hell up” I keep thinking I’ll feel peaceful or relieved. I mean…I’m home. I’m in my bed. My family is together again. Turns out the emotions you expect to feel don’t always show up. I toss and turn with an even mix of gratitude and guilt consuming me. I’m so thankful for the silence but tortured by the reality that the sounds of 7 Long are not gone…we are. We left, everyone else stayed. Gratitude. Guilt. Gratitude. Guilt. The other night about the time I’d convinced my brain to turn off I was snapped awake be a shout…”mommmmmmyy!!” It was Presley…I tip toed into her room to find her half awake muttering “I just want you to cuddle with me mommy”a quick kiss and blanket adjustment and all was well in her world but mine was rattled. I’m all too used to hearing kids scream in the middle of the night but not my own, not for reasons as simple as a snuggle request…and just like that I was catapulted back to the hospital. Laying in total silence I struggled to tune out noises that weren’t there. Turning off memories is even harder than thoughts, especially these. Gratitude. Guilt. Silence. Noise. Repeat. But then there are the morning and the mornings have a way of making up for the nights, I open my eyes and am home. It’s still real. I make tea in my own kitchen and plop down on the floor to be entertained by the goofiness that is two giggly little girls. Feel normal? Not yet, but either way I love it.
For those who have reached out and sent supplies, food, toys, etc…thank you so much. Leaving the house has been challenging so having things like formula and paper towels randomly show up on our doorstep always warrants some serious excitement. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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