Phone charger. Computer. Computer charger. Water bottle.
Not my first rodeo.
I don’t think I like rodeos.
Watching Rowan struggle to breathe I knew I should prepare myself. I did not want to get sent to the hospital with a phone battery at 15% again.
Knowledge that I wish I didn’t have. That was a pretty big theme of the last few days. I could hear the monitor alarms in other rooms, and occasionally in Rowan’s. Oh, a lead must have fallen off down the hall. Now someone is alarming, I wonder if they had a desat, or brady or tachy, or or or. Now someone is either in serious trouble, or their monitor has gone wonky. Probably wonky. The “shampoo and body wash” dispenser in the bathroom has hand soap again. Still smells the same.
When the doctor sent us to Duke, I wondered how I was going to react. I was fairly numb to the idea, because watching Rowan work so hard for air overwrote every other anxiety. I’ve read plenty of accounts of the flashbacks and fear of ending up back in the hospital. For me it was how natural it felt that felt unnatural. The o2 monitor fell off of Rowan’s toe, so it alarmed. I casually walked over and silenced it. I was no stranger in a strange land. I was an acquaintance in a strange land, at minimum.
It was less anxiety, and more discomfort. It is disconcerting to feel at home in the hospital. To get off the elevator and think, “oh, they changed the art on the windows. No more TARDIS drawing.” To look at the same fish in the fifth floor lobby. I knew how to order food, what tasted good, and what the tray would look like when it arrived. There were parts of this that made things less difficult, at least I wasn’t learning the layout of the land at the same time as I was worrying about Rowan. It was just unsettling, and the anxiety was this constant low-level buzz way deep down, rather than the more panicky feeling in my throat and behind my eyes.
Rowan’s birth and NICU stay still feel a lot like something that happened to somebody else. I recall the facts, I recall the facts of how I felt. But I still feel fairly disconnected from it. This hospital stay felt like there was static in the line. It was trying to make connections, yelling “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!” while my brain huddled in a corner going, “LALALALALALA” with its hands over its ears.
I wondered if the doctors noticed that I wasn’t crying. I mean, a lot of the time I was cracking jokes in a clear “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry” sort of way. Except that I seem to have lost my ability to cry. I think I left it somewhere at Duke nine months ago, and there doesn’t seem to be a lost and found box for that. I kept thinking, “I should be crying right now” and could manage a few tears welling up in my eyes, but then unintentionally composed myself. I’m sure the tears will show up in the middle of an important meeting, or at a fancy restaurant, or somewhere equally as inopportune.
For now they must be the static in the line.