It happens to all of us. Every mom who ever has a child in the NICU.
The NICU breakdown.
It happened to me today. I finally succumbed to the emotions, the exhaustion, the pain--and I broke down. I lost my mind, right in the middle of a busy lobby. And while I knew this scene had been seen and heard by the staff a million times, my trigger had been just a little bit different.
We've been trying for two days to slowly introduce Liv to her new brother. We've taken toys, stuffed animals, candy--anything to entice her to visit Matt. And tragically we've seen fit after fit in response. Let's face it--NICUs are boring. You're supposed to be quiet, and your friends can't come play. Worst of all, mom and dad are suddenly playing with some new kid who refuses to do the "silly scream" whenever he gets kissed. Just rude.
Today was the worst. Liv got to the NICU door and lost her mind. I had been with Matt for a while already, so I grabbed the screaming toddler and left Mike to his snuggles.
Of course, the Ronald McDonald Family Room closed an hour early today. And the waiting room smells horrible. So we headed down to the lobby.
It was not good.
Liv threw herself to the floor, demanding snacks. I had left my wallet upstairs, and she didn't understand that we needed to go get money to pay for her food. She didn't need food. She was exhausted and wanted to keep herself awake by any means necessary. But it didn't matter the reason. We were causing a horrible scene. At first I ignored her. Then I tried to coax her. By the end, she got a spanking and I sentenced her to the rest of the visit on the couch, trying to nap. Miserable. The judging looks from passers-by were pretty miserable, too.
Eventually Mike came down to go home and feed Liv. He noticed I looked upset and asked what was wrong. I told him that I was really upset we were leaving and if I could, I'd stay all night long. He tried to be patient, but explained that there was no way I could stay all night and we needed to go to the grocery. So I said, "I just hate the idea of him being all alone."
And that's when I lost it.
I immediately started sobbing. I cried the second the words began leaving my mouth, because I knew I had heard myself say that before. It's the same thing I said when the funeral home director came to wheel my little Carpenter away forever.
I just hate the idea of him being all alone.
Once again, a moment in the life of my rainbow is so directly related to his brother's story. Once again, I draw a parallel that tears my heart in two. Once again I see that no matter what the situation, I will always see Carpenter in his brother.
I don't know how some people can NOT do this. How they can disassociate their rainbows from their angels. Because for me, every step of the way through this process, I've been thinking about Carpenter.
How different situations are similar to Carpenter's birth. Or who was with me for both deliveries. Or every other little detail that has the least in common with the last time I was in the hospital.
I do not for a moment want you to believe I am replacing my Carpenter with Matt. That could never happen. And I'm not having Carpenter live vicariously through his brother in my mind. But I'm seeing already that no matter what, as I watch my sweet boy grow up, I'm going to think of his brother. And some times, those glimpses...they'll break me down.
But they'll also remind me that Carpenter is always with us.
All of us.