Andrew and I had a long conversation that Saturday night about Vaughan cuddling his receiving blanket in the isolette, and how sad it seemed. We felt so guilty that he didn’t have anything to snuggle! Newborns who come home can cuddle Mommy or Daddy, their teddies, toys etc. Vaughan had to stay cocooned up in his blankets and wires…so what to do?
One of V’s nurses that day had mentioned to me that we weren’t able to put stuffed animals into the isolette with him. They tend to pose a smothering hazzard, because, at 2 lbs 12 oz, pretty much any stuffie would dwarf V. The toys were welcome in the NICU but were left perched like ominous, fluffy giants on the side of the isolette rather than inside as a snuggle-buddy. We were, however, allowed to bring in layettes, also known as lovey blankets, which could be put inside with our little guy.
The nurse recommended that Andrew and I sleep with it so that V would know our scent and then bring it in for him to have. So Sunday morning we had a mission, to purchase a ‘blankie’ for V! This would be our first official purchase as parents for our baby boy. We’d been so spoiled at our shower and by family and friends, along with the fact that V arrived so early, we hadn’t actually gotten him anything ourselves at this point.
We also had another purpose for heading to the mall that Sunday. Andrew needed a new phone and since my contract was coming up, we had decided to take the plunge and sign up for a family plan with Rogers Wireless. As mentioned before Andrew’s phone had stopped working the night I went into labour and I was unable to reach him (I am aware that this does sound like a B-rated romantic comedy moment here). This remained a problem afterwards because if the hospital or I needed to reach him about anything to do with V, we both needed reliable sources of communication.
As you know signing up for a cell phone contract is serious business and we researched in our ‘spare’ time to make sure we were getting the best value for our needs, or at least what our perceived needs would be, over the next three years. We figured that hitting up the mall when it opened at noon would let us get in and get out relatively quickly, stuffed animal blanket thing and new cell phones in hand. Then we’d head up to the hospital for a visit with V before Andrew headed back to the theatre for rehearsal.
Looking back now, I’m sure ‘fate’ was laughing it’s fool head off when it heard our plans and decided to make our already memorable and stressful week a little longer. We stopped at Walmart first and bought the only lovely blanket we could find; a pale yellow ‘Winnie The Pooh’ with a velvet top and satin underside, featuring Winnie’s head and arms. Beggars can’t be choosers and we were determined to have the toy to him that night (yeah, yeah I know we were supposed to sleep with it, so sue me). No more receiving blanket snuggles for our kiddo!
Then we made tracks over to the Rogers store. Cue ominous music here….
The lineup was epic. I’m talking at least 15 people long. Why oh why did everyone decide to get new cell phones that day? Oh yeah…OSAP had just come in. Awesome. There were also the assorted students who had dropped their phones, or in one case run them over with a bike, during drunken Orientation week shenanigans. Double awesome.
So Andrew and I sighed and took our place at the back of the line, hoping that the 3 employees manning the desk would make short work of everyone’s requests. Oh wait, new employees got stuck with the Sunday shift? Sweet! AND someone called in sick? What luck!! If you haven’t already sensed the sarcasm here, let me tell you that all of this info made me want to start jabbing myself in the eye with one of their little USB internet devices. We hunkered down for a long wait.
I feel like this is where I need to mention that, while epidurals are like a giant hug from Heaven, they do occasionally have the unpleasant side effect of some lingering back pain for a few days after they are administered. Not surprising seeing as someone jammed a 10 inch needle up your spine. This was just the icing on the crap sundae, as each moment standing in that line felt like someone was running a pizza cutter along my lower back. This made the whole experience just that much more special.
When we finally made it to the front of the line, luck of the draw, we managed to get the ‘newbie’ who had never signed anyone up for a plan in his life. This however, wasn’t too bad for us, however, I did feel marginally guilty for the people behind us as one of the more experienced employees came over to help. I could go into more detail but I’ll leave it at this: Signing up for the plan took a lot longer than necessary due to (and we should have expected this at this point) computer glitches, stock issues, etc. Thankfully after 2+ hours we left the store the proud owners of fancy new smartphones. We made tracks out of the mall and back to St. Jo’s.
Now, I had nothing else to do with the rest my day other than spend time with our little guy. Andrew, on the other hand, had a rehearsal to get to and by the time we arrived at the hospital he only had 15 minutes to visit with his son. This was a big moment for us as a family and I remember Andrew getting to hold V and crying because he just really didn’t want to go.
As a woman and mother there is nothing sweeter than watching the two greatest loves in your life bond and feel it so strongly that it moves, at least one of them, to tears. Andrew was so angry at Rogers for taking away his time with his son, and although it was necessary, he just felt robbed of his day. I also think this is when it really struck him that, for the next few weeks at least, his time at the NICU would be limited. It’s different when a newborn is home and Daddy can see him before and after work, and then be able to snuggle after the play. When that newborn is in the hospital it is a lot harder to just go and cuddle, especially juggling it with rounds, visiting hours, work, etc. We made a deal that if he was unable to make it between work and rehearsal, or even if he just felt like he needed more time with V, that we would come when we could afterwards, even if that was at 2am. This, I think, helped him relax and he was able to head back to his commitment with the play. I assured him that I’d use our fancy new phones to keep him updated on V’s progress.
We did decide to hold off on the lovey blanket for one more day so that we could wash it and yes, sleep with it before we added it to his little world inside the isolette. This was important because Andrew wanted to have time to see Vaughan’s reaction to the toy, and we really wanted to experience any ‘milestones’ like that together as a family, a philosophy we still stick to today!