Monday, June 11, 2007
The First Birthday Has Arrived
It is officially one year (and almost two hours) since Hallie Rose's and Olivia Skye's birth.
We are very much filled with emotion tonight (and have been all month, and will be for the rest of June). A year ago tonight, we were just embarking on the NICU rollercoaster. We had only the vaguest idea what this meant. About a half hour from now, a year ago, Sharon and I, accompanied by her family (who drove back from NJ to Philly at midnight when it became clear that delivery was imminent) went down from Labor and Delivery, where we had lived for not quite a week, to the ICN at Pennsylvania Hospital to see our daughters.
Tonight, we brought Hallie back to the ICN for a visit. It was a bittersweet occasion. One of Hallie's primaries, Corinne, was in charge tonight, just as she had been a year ago tonight. She had been thinking about us and on the verge of writing us an email when we walked in the door.
The first person to greet us this evening was David, surprisingly one of the very very few nurses who never had Hallie as a patient. David is hilarious and we always enjoyed his presence when we spent our many, many nights holed up in East and South last year. Anyway, David was thrilled to see Hallie: while he had never taken care of her officially, he did have the dubious pleasure of being the one to administer chest compressions to her on her first-month birthday last year. He is extremely glad to have never had to repeat this experience and to see how big and strong she is today.
He was not the only one who thought that Hallie was getting to be a big girl. This is not only because most of the ICN folks remember her back when she and Olivia were the size of 20 ounce coke bottles and fit into the palms of their hands. Rather, Hallie really has put on a bunch of weight since last week....as of Thursday, she is 7125 grams, or 15 lbs. 11.5 ounces, which is a more than 4 ounce gain from the previous week. She is also eating like a champ and has finished a record FOUR whole baby food jars in the past couple of days. Plus, she had a few veggie sticks from Trader Joe's (a tastier version of the melt in your mouth gerber snacks, we think), and she did nicely with them. Maybe some day we'll actually work through the stash of baby food that we amassed months ago when we were desperately trying to find something that Hallie would like to eat. Hallie also has acquired quite a bit more leg and arm chub and carrying her around is actually becoming an experience that leads to sore muscles.
In any event, here's a series of photos of Hallie with Katie (a respiratory therapist who had the pleasure (NOT!) of intubating and reintubating Hallie many times, and who always had a soft spot for our little girl):
We also saw Nicole, who is going to get to share that birthday cake with our kiddo at long last this coming Sunday, who loved up our little girl:
And Hallie also got to spend some quality time in the arms Dr. June Wallison, one of the neonatologists:
If Hallie looks blurry in some of these photos, it is because our image stabilization cannot compensate for our bundle of joy, who is a body in perpetual motion. This may detract from our photography (and our sleep), but all in all, we're pretty happy with how much joy and energy courses through Hallie Rose's body.
The rest of the week will be spent in various birthday preparations. We will have dinner with our commune tomorrow night in honor of our girls' birth, and will spend Sunday celebrating Hallie's first birthday. Most of the past weekend was devoted to preparations for this event, and I suspect that the next few days will be as well.
Throughout all of this, we are still searching for the right way to memorialize Olivia (can there be a right way to do this? We are not the only ones who have experienced this searing pain and loss, and I think that all of us parents of surviving twins, and all of us who have ever lost a baby fumble through this, hoping to find something appropriate to say or do, but in the end, nothing really makes us feel better or makes something that is so wrong feel right. Anyway, we will do the best we can and hope that someday we can figure out a way of coming to peace with things and, most importantly, a way of explaining to Hallie about her beginnings and about her sister and why her birth is a momentous and joyous occasion for us but also one that is inevitably bittersweet.