Posts Tagged 'NICU'

Slade/It/Whatever

Sometimes we call him It.

“What’s It wearing?” Sally asks Tuesday evening as Slade wanders around the living room with a dog food bowl on his head.

“It’s my hat, Mommy,” Slade answers.

And then Wednesday evening: “Did you hear that?” Sally asks after we put the boys to bed.

“That what?”

“That Thud.” Sally looks slowly left and slowly right like she’s about to share a secret and adds, “It’s still awake. . . And I’m pretty sure It’s up to something.”

***

Early today, at 3:00 or 4:00 this morning, It slides out of its bunk bed, waddles down the hall, and climbs in bed with Sally and me.

“Ouch, Slade,” Sally grumbles. “Be still.”

And later, “No talking, Slade. It’s night night time.”

Later still, It sticks a finger in my ear. I grunt, lift my head off the pillow, and peek at the clock. 5:05. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

“Hi, Daddy!” It whispers.

I grunt again, which makes It giggle, and It hugs or maybe tackles me.

For an instant, I go back to three years ago, almost to the minute. I go back to Sally waking up in drenched sheets, to Sally telling me to call the doctor, to pink blood on the carpet, the bed, the tile, the wall, and all over the toilet. I go back to driving to the hospital, almost certain the baby is dead.

Then I fall back asleep.

“Slade, do you know what today is?” Sally says from inside the bathroom.

I glance at the alarm clock. It’s 5:55 now. Swell.

“Today’s my birthday!” It exclaims in the bathroom.

I slip back in time again, to three years ago, to the waiting room, to the nurse who says placental abruption and C-section and significant blood loss and NICU. I slip back to Eli telling me we should name his brother Pick Pack while we sit, we wait, we hope. I slip back to Sally shaking in the hospital and a 3-pound baby wired to strange machines.

I get out of bed, three years almost to the second that Sally was cut open and our unnamed son was pulled into this life. I make my way into the bathroom.

“It’s my birthday!” It proclaims when It sees me, grinning, raising his arms like It’s won something.

And, you know, maybe It has.

***

Slade. It. Slader Tot. Your Son. Slader Tater. House Tornado. Feral Toddler. We have lots of names for our child, but whatever we call him, we’re grateful to the bone that he pulled through three years ago today, even if he sometimes sleeps too little and ends up in time out almost daily and has a thing for silly hats.

Happy Birthday, Slade/It/whatever. We sure are glad you’re around.