Several months ago, I published Happy Fifth Birthday wishes to Miss B (complete with photo of her made-to-order, ineptly decorated Shark Cake).
Today isn’t a birthday. But in many ways it’s just as important—maybe even more important. Today marks the day, five years ago, that Miss B came home from the hospital.
Miss B’s birthday arrived far too soon, and was a day of fear, anxiety, and worry for DP and me. It was followed by months—nearly eight of them—filled mostly with more of the same. Then, in the space of a few weeks, the prognosis went from hesitant to hopeful, and with only a few days’ notice, we got clearance to take her home for the weekend.
We had been afraid to plan too much for this longed-for day, but we had decided one thing: how we were going to get home. We were living in
, and we didn’t have a car. We didn’t want the anxiety and hassle of trying to get onto a city bus, or strap a brand-new car seat into a taxi or friend’s car. So we put her in a sling strapped to DP’s chest (she was still so small you couldn’t see her over the top of it), and we walked, on a mild early spring afternoon, out of the hospital, down Headington Hill, across Christ Church Meadow, and home. Oxford
So much that happened before and after is a blur, but I still remember that day so clearly. It was one of the few things I’d let myself anticipate, all those long months: what it would be like, how it would feel to walk out those doors and take her with us. When the time actually came, though, my overwhelming emotion was something I hadn’t anticipated: relief. For the first time, as we walked away from the hospital, I didn’t feel pulled back. I didn’t feel torn in two directions: my need to be with Miss B, and my obligation to do whatever I was leaving the hospital to do. I felt like everything was right; that we were all together; and that there was nothing I needed to do and nowhere I needed to be. I had thought I’d be nervous, and I was, a little bit; but mostly I just felt like things were all right now.
(As it turned out, it wasn’t a weekend visit after all; they just told us that so we wouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the prospect of taking her home. We went back on Monday morning, and they wouldn’t even let us on the ward; they told us there was stomach flu going around, gave us an appointment for the outpatient clinic, and shooed us out again.)
And here we are today, five years later, in a furnished hotel apartment outside
, a long way by any standard of measurement from where we started. We celebrated with dinner at the T-Rex Café, Miss B’s new favorite restaurant, full of dinosaurs and fish and meteor showers. Miss B brought home a new imaginary friend, Dexter the Dinosaur, and tucked him into bed before getting in herself. It’s a rainy, cold, late-winter night, and we’re still very much in the middle of our transition to settling here. Kansas City
But tonight we are all together, and all is right in our little world.