Thursday, March 5, 2009

Graduating from the NICU

After yesterday's misfire, our understanding was that Max would be at Georgetown until next week; this was the NICU team's understanding as well. However, as is the nature of bureaucracies, the planets aligned around 11:00 AM today and suddenly the NICU team had to have Max ready to go in 15 minutes. The NICU team worked feverishly to assemble Max's medical records and prepare the rugged-looking transporter while Carolyn dashed around gathering up the asteroid belt of personal items that has gathered in orbit in and around Max's crib.

A few minutes into all of this it struck everyone that Max and Carolyn were finally leaving the NICU and, if all went well, they would only ever return as visitors in some far-distant future. It was an emotional moment: after more than four months of 12-hour shifts, Carolyn and I had become extremely close to the NICU team. Perhaps the sudden sprint to the finish line was for the best, like pulling a band-aid off quickly. When Carolyn arrived at HSC, nurse K., who had accompanied Max in the medical van, was already gone, and Max was in his new home. (A couple of hours later Carolyn would get an email from nurse R., Max's special friend in the NICU, saying that she was already suffering from "Max withdrawal".)

The HSC staff could not have been more understanding. Several of the specialists we spoke with mentioned that parents were often disoriented and anxious after the abrupt transition and because of the vast cultural gap between HSC and the NICU. They said that it would take time for us to get used to the slower pace and quieter atmosphere of HSC. But actually I think we like many of the differences between the NICU and HSC; we mostly miss the people we came to know in the NICU, and we're worried because the HSC team haven't yet been spellbound by Max's charms. They're obviously competent and really like babies in the abstract, but they don't yet know how special our little guy is.

Max has a corner bay with a view out a window. The early spring light was flooding through it when I walked in this afternoon. When we left tonight, they had turned the room lights down so that it was, for the first time in Max's life, really dark at night. But at the same time, it was really hard to leave, we felt a little like we were leaving Max with strangers.

Here's a picture I took of Max in the natural light through his window:
Max at HSC