Spending the first portion of Olivia’s life in the NICU is certainly not what Luke and I had envisioned for our family, but it is what it is and here we are: #NICUlife. There are countless things that cross my mind while being in the NICU, many of which include the laundry list of ‘typical’ memories we are missing – or hopefully simply delaying. Our first night at home, walks around the neighborhood, car rides, errands around town, visits with friends, afternoons at the park, evenings on the deck. Not to mention summer vacations, trips we had planned, and places we wanted to take our sweet girl.
Also on the list of events that are unfolding unexpectedly are holidays.
We spent our first mother’s day in the NICU, not at home how I had hoped. I turned 30 while hanging out with our sassy gal in the NICU. And today marks the beginning of summer holidays: Memorial Day. Olivia’s first Memorial Day! Instead of spending the day with outdoors, introducing Olivia to our friends at a picnic, we’re still here.
Celebrating these firsts… experiencing our family’s early memories in the NICU… is sad. My heart is often flooded with sorrow, sometimes jealousy, and even resentment. But at the same time, my heart is full. While sad, unexpected, and not exactly typical, this is our situation, our life right now. And so despite our environment, despite where Olivia spends her days or where she sleep, despite her condition and the string of unanswered questions, we carry on. We spend every day with our little girl, just as we would have under ‘typical’ circumstances. And we celebrate all sorts of firsts, as any other new parents would… just with slightly different surroundings.
So today, on Olivia’s first Memorial Day, we celebrate the start of summer and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country, NICU style: with a decorated bed and festive clothing.