I realize it's almost 2008 and I still haven't written anything about Christmas. In fact, I still haven't written anything about the things we did before Christmas. This was one of them. Our local community hospital recently launched a big campaign to make it sound like some kind of medical center of excellence, with slogans like "Tough on Heart Disease, Easy on You." If I sound a little snide, I don't exactly mean to be. Perhaps it is an excellent hospital. I know many people prefer it to our local teaching hospital. I can only say that my L & D experience there was far from stellar...but it was also complicated and ugly and they just didn't seem to be prepared for my method of childbirth (way too early and way too fast).
But, I digress. Shortly before Christmas, I spotted one of these advertisements as we stopped for pizza downtown. Rather than one of the hospital's many heart or cancer specialists displayed larger than life, this one was someone I knew. As much as she's not a close personal friend of mine, I still have very strong feelings about this woman. She had to give me some really bad news about my babies...more than once. But she has my admiration and respect because without her and a whole lot of other people like her, I might have no children at all.
She's the director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She took care of Smunch for two weeks of his 14-week hospital stay at the teaching hospital (where neonatologists do two-week rotations) and she is in charge of the NICU where Mam was pulled back from the brink of death after her birth. If I sound a little too sappy, it's not because I have an overblown sense of the drama involved here. It's because that's what life was like with a baby in the NICU. I'm so, so pleased to view that experience only in my mental rearview mirror. And it's getting further and further behind us in most ways.
I can't say I believe my kids came through the prematurity experience unscathed, but I can say that this woman played a very important part in their lives and I'll be forever grateful for that.
So, we went back a week later and took some photos. It wasn't a good hair day, it wasn't a terrific behavior day, even, but I love these and somehow, they feel important.