On Tuesday, we had our first really warm day since January (yes, that's correct: January. Global warming has wreaked havoc with our climate here--as everywhere else). It was simply gorgeous out and, unlike a couple of months ago, I'm relatively certain that we're not going to descend into the frozen tundra like hellishness again this season. Anyway, it was quite warm and sunny and Hallie--who is teething furiously--was fussier than average, even after a lovely lavender-infused (and purportedly calming) bath. So I decided that it was time to put her in her stroller and take her out for a nap. Within seconds she was asleep and I was having a grand time navigating the various potholes wrought by a combination of an overly zealous demolition crew for Philadelphia Gas Works (and an underly zealous road paving crew related to the same notoriously corrupt and poorly run institution that claimed most of my salary this past winter). We sped through the park, up and down the streets, and had a good snooze. Then I headed off in the general direction of Whole Foods Markets (which claims the portion of my salary that does not go directly to PGW). While speeding along 8th street, I had that familiar old feeling: this was part of my twice or thrice daily walk to Pennsylvania Hospital from the house all summer and now that it's sort of summer again, the route was evocative of all sorts of emotions. I decided to give the ICN a call to see whether Hallie's daytime primaries were on, and to use their presence (or lack thereof) as a sign of how far of a walk down memory lane I wished to embark.
It turns out that both of Hallie's daytime primaries--Meghan, whom we last saw in February at Hallie's home-longer-than-hospitalized party and Brie, whom we hadn't see since discharge--were working that day. This sealed the deal and it was off to the ICN. We arrived at the hospital a few minutes later and it seemed as if the security/front desk folks who used to see us daily did not recognize us anymore. While waiting for the pathetically slow elevator, several nurse-types (at least scrubs-wearing personnel) wondered if we were off to visit a baby in the regular nursery. I said no--we were off to visit the place where this baby spent the first four months of her life.
We got off on 2 and immediately ran into one of the moms to whom we grew close this summer. Shelly was back with baby Suhaila, a former 24 weeker who is now a robust and extremely cute 10 lbs. 6 ounces, for a developmental followup. She had just gotten done visiting with Suhaila's primaries and showing them how big their little girl had grown. It was great to see them and we are going to be in touch to set up a playdate now that RSV season is almost over.
While I was catching up with Shelly and Suhaila, Meghan and Brie came out front (they hadn't yet been informed of our presence, so this was sort of by chance). They were amazed and thrilled to see their baby and, for the next half hour or so, we all hung out in the lobby (since I wasn't scrubbing in and had no intention of seeing whether Hallie still fit into a giraffe bed, let alone expose her to infections!). We saw lots and lots of old friends---Dagmar and Stacy, who spent more sleepless on-call nights trying to figure out how to stabilize Hallie; Bonnie, who was responsible for tweaking her vent settings for a very long time and then fighting with Hallie over the administration of her albuterol puffs; and tons of nurses who took care of her (I am pretty sure that only one nurse never had Hallie, and he was the one recruited to administer chest compressions to her on her one month birthday, when she decided to celebrate by bradying in a particularly bad way). Everyone was impressed by how round Hallie's head is (they turned her regularly, like you would a rotisserie chicken, in the hopes of avoiding preemie head, and all that hard work paid off, even if it pissed off Hallie at the time). And it was also nice to see a bunch of moms whom I did not know, because, as one of them put it to me, somewhat wistfully, 'it's good to see that they do get bigger.'
If that wasn't enough, Hallie had another playdate today with Maya and her mom, Rachel. They went to the park, swung on the swings, and napped in the sun. They also played a fierce game of tug-o-war with the Skwishy Manhattan Baby Toy. Hallie apparently won, but hopefully we'll be able to get Maya one of her own before her birthday next month (there's a back order on them right now, but we have ways....)
Anyway, it was great catching up and now that spring is here I hope that we get to see some of our ICN friends more often.
This is, of course, a perfect lead-in to a shameless plug for all of Hallie's ICN friends to join us to walk in Walk America for the March of Dimes in exactly one month from today. Many of you have been very generous in your support and we are vastly grateful to you. But we'd like some more walkers on our team (and hope that the ICN mommies and medical staff, in particular, would consider joining us). Here's the URL again-- Team Hallie and Olivia ---please consider walking with us because we would like nothing better than to put the Pennsylvania Hospital Intensive Care Nursery out of business. Barring that, let's just get some more research money earmarked to help save kids like Hallie and Olivia (and Suhaila and Maya and Elana) and help improve the outcomes of preemies and micropreemies everywhere!
Sorry about the utter lack of pictures in this post---I promise to be better about this really soon