Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chloe's Memories From the NICU

Every night before bed I sing one song to Chloe and I let her choose the song. 9 times out of 10 she chooses the "humming song." There are two songs I hum to her. One is a simple three notes repeated. It's hummed by all the Moms in my family and extended family. That's not the one she wants. Chloe's preferred song is one that I learned from my Mom. One that I have hummed to her since her earliest days in the NICU. I remember standing by her isolette for 90 minute stretches with my hands resting (very lightly) - one one the top of her head and one under her bottom - humming this very tune. I hummed it to her every single day standing by her isolette for 6 weeks before the first time I had kangaroo time with her. I hummed it while she got a new IV and while I fed her her first bottle. I hummed it while she came out of anesthesia from her many procedures...every day for 5 months as I visited her...

Last night she requested the humming song and I wondered, "Does she prefer this song because it comforts her? Does it comfort her at a deep level that she doesn't understand but is a result of hearing it during a time when she yearned for the love and comfort of a Mother who was only there for a short while each day? Did she anxiously await my arrival during her long solitary days laying alone in the isolette?" The I realized I'd never talked to her about her NICU days and was compelled to mention it... In the bedtime...maybe not the most well-thought-out plan.

-Chloe, do you know that, when you were a tiny baby, you were very sick and lived in the hospital for a very long time?
-(Very dramatically) Yes Mommy! And you left me all by myself and I was so sad! I sat in my bed all by myself and cried and cried. And I said, "Mommy, please come back!" But you went in the van and drove away and I was crying and crying because I didn't want to be all alone!

It's a good thing I was sitting down during this...revelation...? I was shocked, confused, overcome with emotion. Those feelings of sadness and guilt came flooding back. I was only able to spend a few short hours with Chloe every night after Dave got home from work. I hated that she was alone all day and night. Sure there were nurses to see to her medical and physical needs but they couldn't see to her emotional needs.

-Chloe, I never wanted to leave you in the hospital.
-But you did, Mommy. You left me and I was so so so sad and I cried and cried. And you drove away!

It was creepy I tell you. I have no idea where she came up with this but it was so real and difficult to hear. I know she has no memory of that time. And I hope she wasn't crying for me when I left. But that conversation really sent me back. I wish I knew...


The Hillbergs said...

Wow! Ugh, I can just imagine the pit in your stomach when you heard Chloe telling you about not wanting you to leave :( Of course, you know that the memory isn't quite right because as a newborn, she'd have no idea what a 'van' was or any sort of vehicle for that matter. But then you wonder - where the heck did this 'memory' come from?? I guess little kids are pretty complex - so its probably a combination of several things - like being left at a babysitter or something (which actually makes a lot more sense for that particular memory...). But the really good thing about all of this is that she verbalized the feelings and now you can reassure her that you won't leave her, etc. I think all children must feel this way at one time or another, but Chloe must be advanced because she's able to put those feelings into words and thoughts! Hugs to you and sweet Chloe!

A Goldsworthy Note said...

I just deleted my text and decided I would talk to you instead. Thanks for sharing this post. You better know you are an amazing Mommy to those girls and you always have been.

Emily and Troy Williams said...

So, I read this a couple of days ago and was going to respond, but couldn't through the tears. I've struggled to write these few measly words, but here they are nonetheless.

Of course, I know you know, in your heart of hearts, that Chloe does not remember her NICU days. That most likely, she's connecting later visits and treatments (or school/babysitting) with those very early days. I cannot imagine what you felt when Chloe said those things to you but I'm sure it felt close, if not as intense, as those long days almost 4 years ago. I wish I could have been there to give you a hug and cry with you. But I would have also pointed out to you that Chloe knew you, recognized you as her mother, and knew that she was loved, even when your only connection was the sound of your voice humming and the light touch of your hands.

Emily and Troy Williams said...

This is the post I was thinking of earlier - it's from September 3, 2009:

I spent some time humming to her today and decided that she really likes my singing. She must know I'm her Mama. Every time I hummed her O2 saturation would increase. It's nice to feel as though I'm actually doing something to help my little girl.