It was heartbreaking, having to leave the hospital when the clock struck 9pm. Visiting hours for fathers was 9am to 9pm, and apart from running the odd errand to get some more appetising looking food from the local shops, I was spending the entire day with them. Watching them sleep, attending appointments, sitting and waiting. Each day we were told that “today might be the day” that they would get to come home with me, but as the days went by they weighed her, took her blood-sugar levels and told us she needed to stay until she had gotten big enough.
We felt positive however, the baby was healthy and feeding was going well, so it hurt even more each time we were told they couldn’t yet come home. As we hugged before I left for the evening my wife held me tighter and longer each day that passed, she so desperately wanted to come home and I wanted to take them with me rather than going back alone, to an empty house, my feelings echoed by the bare walls.
The day finally came that we got to all go home together. Our daughter was gaining weight, albeit slowly, but it was enough for the doctors and midwives to take pity on us and let them free.
It’s been nine weeks since we left the hospital as a family, and since then we have been constantly reminded that we have a small baby by everyone that meets her. “Oh, she’s so tiny!!!”, “Ten weeks?! I wouldn’t have guessed more than six!”, are invariably the calls we hear from good natured well-wishers. But what people don’t know of course, is how much hard work has gone into ensuring our baby is growing as she is expected to. At the hospital and subsequent visits, we time and again heard that the baby was “too small to go home”, or “too small to be discharged”, so when someone asks us if it is our first outing with her, or proclaim that they haven’t seen such a new baby, we smile along knowing they think she’s cute, but at the same time get taken back to those feelings of anxiety we had in the beginning.
She is small. And she is perfect.