I returned to the birthing center last month to visit a friend who had her baby. I couldn't wait to see her and to offer my congrats. However as soon as I walked into the elevator, I was transported back in time. Every time I ride in that elevator, I think of the day we left the hospital and our little girl stayed. That isn't the way things are supposed to work. As I enter the nursing station, I'm hit with the NICU on the right. I can see the window that Ariana was next to during her 15 day stay.
The memories flood back. The wheelchair ride to the nursery for my first look at our daughter. Being told I can't hold her that time since she was having some issues. Sitting next to her isolette reading The Hungry Caterpillar. My first mother's day spent giving her her first bath. The pedi telling us we can take her home.
I shake my head and bring myself back to the present only to walk past the triage room. So many fears in that room for me. I falter and my breathing hitches, then comes faster. I can do this, I tell myself. I continue cautiously past the room where I was admitted with Ariana, past the room where I had Phoenix. I was trying to keep breathing calmly, but afraid of a sudden memory that would spin me suddenly. My brain was flooded with the emotions of those stays.
I sigh with gratefulness as I reach my friend's room. Thankful that the memories will stop for a while. Then I see that tiny bundle and my heart skips. I smile as I'm reeling. I bravely remain outwardly calm and happy for my friend, but inside am filled with a sadness and grief I was not expecting.
My stay with them was short, but good. I never let on that I was inwardly awkward. As I left the hospital and walked through the doors into the free air, I took a deep breath and by the time I reached the car the tears were falling. I cannot put into words the exact emotions that I was feeling at the moment, but it was theraputic and I'm hoping the next time we visit the birthing center I won't have such a "memorable" visit.