Time is already flying! Little Zoe is almost 40 hours old now. In the random, flying around sitting times between Zoe’s sleeping, feeding, diapers, visitors, eating, and whatever else is happening these days, it struck me just how different this year’s trip is from last year’s, even though we’re just on the other side of the wall from Doria’s delivery room. Some of these will sound very obvious, but they’re a big deal on a trip like this one.
1. We got to win this time!!! I just can’t overstate how important that is. I knew that was going to be the outcome, and I believed it would be true, but I never fully believed it until the moment I saw Zoe. That’s when even I could figure out that this was going to happen. All the way up until Zoe came out, there was always that chance.
2. It’s the day after Zoe’s delivery, and I haven’t called a funeral home or compared our different options for body disposal, comparison shopped the various cemeteries, planned a funeral, or anything like that. If you haven’t been to that bizarre place in life, it’s an amazing relief to focus on Zoe’s living instead of Doria’s death.
3. Just like last year, I filled out paperwork. This time, for Zoe’s Certificate of Live Birth instead of Doria’s Certificate of Fetal Death. The form has some nice awkward questions, such as whether we’re putting her up for adoption, or I can mark a spot saying that I’m the husband but not the father, but that’s still less awkward than the death one.
4. Our visitors don’t have to cry. We haven’t even finished a single box of Kleenex. Last year, most of us struggled to finish a sentence without tissues and tears. We won’t try to run the place out of tissues this year. Maybe diapers, but not tissues.
5. Zoe needs stuff. This sounds so obvious, but it’s a drastic change. When your previous child died, they don’t need anything when they’re in the room. Zoe needs stuff, and it took some time to connect the dots that this trip was different. Now I’m making the transition to diaper-changing machine, but the first things she needed, like mopped up from her spitting up, did not register right away. After our first child died, I apparently connected being here with not needing to do anything. There just wasn’t anything to do for Doria.
6. We have a living baby. Tomorrow, we’re walking out of here with a living Zoe and putting her in that car seat. Zoe sleeps a lot, but she flails her arms a lot, and she’s alive.
7. As a guy, I get to move around the hospital more than Becky. This time, my interactions with other dads are different. We share smiles this time. Last year, I’d try to smoothly avert their gaze. I didn’t want to ruin some joyful guy’s time with my journey into Death Valley. We chat (for seconds) about our babies, and we all drive on happy. I just ran into someone from our church, and she jumped out with “Congratulations!” and a big smile. That wouldn’t have happened last year.
8. I saw a dad take his car seat into their room. I could smile instead of crying.
9. On this trip, when I hear things like “God is good,” it isn’t an unintentionally heartbreaking punch to the gut. It’s nice, and it actually feels as true as it is.
10. This one is the same but different. Just like last year, I’m in over my head now. This time, I like it. Bring it, Zoe!
11. Last time, I was mostly impressed by this hospital’s compassion, because it is phenomenal. This time, I get to be amazed by their ability and knowledge, while the compassion remains. I’m swimming in new things that I likely won’t ever remember, but it’s just fantastic to see these things. It reminds me how stunning it is for our doctor to have been on the losing end with us. The man (and his crew) have amazing talent!
12. I made a quick trip home and to campus. It wasn’t awkward for any of us to talk on campus, because it’s a great news story. At home, now wailing or tears, which both happened last year. I hung out by the crib for a couple minutes, played the mobile, and let those little animals know that they’ll be watching over a baby tomorrow. When I came back, instead of a room filled with loving and grieving people, I came back to Becky holding onto a sleepy Zoe. That was a heartwarming return.
So much of this trip is the same, but everything about it is so different, simply because we got to win!