Tomorrow will be my first day training as a NICU volunteer. Tomorrow, I will go back to the place where my tiny babies spent their collective first five months.
I've thought about the logistics of how I'll get one kid to preschool 30 minutes south of us, of how I'll get the baby to Mother's Morning Out near our house, and of how I'll get myself in a completely different direction to a hospital downtown--all by 10 a.m.
I've thought about the friends I'll see at the NICU. I adored so many of the doctors, nurses, and therapists there. I'm excited to see some of them again.
In a weird way, the NICU is like another home, the one where my babies had all of their firsts. I know, isn't that bizarre, to think of a hospital like a home?
But, I hadn't stopped to think how it would feel to be there again.
I felt all of it wash over me: fear, depression, anger, defeat, frustration. I heard the dings and beeps that make up the rhythm of the NICU. The smell, that hospital smell. I could almost taste it, and what does it even smell of? Strong antiseptic?
I felt queasy.
And the parents? Only God knows what they need to hear! Some of them are lost, some of them are desperate, and nearly all of them are downtrodden. I know how they feel. But, can I give them comfort? Can I find the right words? I don't look like one of them anymore. My eyes don't betray a sadness. I don't walk with the weight of the world on my back. I'm one of the lucky ones with babies at home. A fat, squishy baby and a toddler who races around the house.
But, I am one of them. I have walked in their shoes, and I want to help. I just want to help.
That's the thing about helping, though. You can't fix it. You can't make it right because you can't give them the one thing they want most of all: their baby home. All you can do is offer encouragement, support, and love, and you have to hope that is enough.
Do I have the emotional reserves to give to someone else yet? Helping is healing. I already know that. So, maybe I'm ready.
I guess I'll find out tomorrow.