Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Wristband

Many of you who are parents have seen this wristband, or one like it. This is the wristband the hospital puts on you when you have a baby. The one you wear for a day or two and then as you are leaving with your baby the nurses check against your baby's and then cut them off both of you and in a sense set you free. To many of you this is a wristband you wear for a day and then put in the baby book. For those of us with babies in the NICU it is much more than that.

You see when we are pregnant people see the belly and ask you about the baby and you gush with pride as you tell them what you are having, the baby's name and when your due ect. After you have your baby you have a cute little bundle that everyone gushes over and asks you about acknowledging you are a new mother. For those of us with NICU babies this band is all that identifies us to the rest of the public as new mothers. It is our marker, our acknowledgement. We no longer have the baby belly nor do we have a cute little baby to carry around. We have a plastic band with our baby's birth date, last name, time and sex. Many of us our bands are weathered from constant hand washing, cracked from weeks and months of wear and barely legible. But we wear it with pride and are proud when someone sees it and asks if we just had a baby. To us there is an emotional attachment to this little plastic band.

A new mother gets a ride to the car in a wheelchair and help into her car. A NICU mother is handed is handed a NICU Visitor's tag, checks on her baby and trudges to the car, alone. No wheelchair, no identifiers that she is indeed, a new mother too. A NICU mom is anxious for the day that she too can take off her weathered, faded band, though her baby's is long gone or never fit them in the first place and is set free to begin a "normal" life. One that includes getting up and cuddling her baby and not getting up and trekking into the hospital.

Until then we wear our weathered bands with pride because they represent the baby we cannot take everywhere with us.