Holding Ruthie Lou is the best place in the world. Hearing her breathe, watching her expressions as she sleeps on my arm, are pure bliss. I could sit here forever. There is a lot of time to think when you're sitting with a sleeping baby.
While sitting this morning with the most beautiful baby in the world, I was reminded of this story that I came across as we were staying in the NICU. It offered me a new perspective to life. We always imagine things are going to be a certain way, we count on life to give us certain things and we are so shocked when life turns out differently than expected. We mourn the loss of our expectations, the dreams that we had for the life we "deserve". But there are no guarantees, no entitlements and if we get caught up in what we have lost, we are unable to appreciate what we have been given.
This story really encapsulates the way in which our life has changed, the way it will continue to change when we come home...
Welcome To Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
* * * We were supposed to go to Italy. We were supposed to be on the same flight as all our friends, our family. We expected to see the same sights, have similar stories, join the club of families that we have waited so long for. But life has given us a different plan. We have joined a different club. We are a family still, but a different family than what we see around us. In the meantime, Holland is beautiful. Ruthie Lou is beautiful. The outpouring of support, the wonderful families and people we are meeting are beautiful. We have been given a different gift with Ruthie Lou, one that all of you get to experience with us, too.
I mourn the loss of the life I imagined, the little girl I dreamed to watch grow old, but the experience we are having right now, thru the pain and heartache is also beautiful, if I can stay focused on it. The small things in life take on a bigger meaning, the little experiences will now be our greatest memories and have/will forever change us. We have a great routine going on over here at the house, one I wish we could have forever. It's a slow lifestyle, comfortable. We get up, lounge around holding Ruthie Lou while we read, write or watch TV. We have to take turns holding her, and while we so graciously share her, it really is reluctantly so! The house makes us every meal and most afternoons, after lunch we get Ruthie Lou ready for the hot (warm) tub. She LOVES it! If she's asleep, she stays asleep and if she's awake, she lasts about ten minutes before her body relaxes and she's quickly asleep.
At sunset, Ruthie Lou and I stroll outside, sit in the wood rocking chair under the gazebo where I sing to her and tell her stories about life. It's our special bonding time, I treasure those moments. She also continues to give us all the new parent initiations and we love it, she makes us laugh so hard. She gives us dirty looks when we do things that she dislikes, you know, like changing her diaper or making out with her, as I like to do! She also peed all over the bed as I was taking pictures of her skinny little naked booty yesterday. The girl likes to be naked, what can I say, she is that relaxed!!
Our time here is precious, sacred and invaluable. We wake up honored each morning for another day to share with Ruthie Lou. We are a good balance between Chris and I, reminding each other to stay in the moment and giving one another space when we need it. But one thing is for sure, this little girl has made our hearts grow larger than we could have ever imagined, and we love each other even more because of her.
Thank you for your continued emails, messages, texts. We still love them, encourage them and appreciate you keeping us in your hearts. Even if you have nothing to say, because there are no words, the messages of love are priceless to us.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.