this trip, this handful of days, is not what anyone had pictured it to look like. what was supposed to be a trip for jack's birthday turned into a trip for jack. for luca. for T and lee. for my parents.
in short, jack spent eight days in the hospital, including three days before my arrival and all five days of my stay. what happened, exactly, is a toss up. a perfect storm, perhaps, of self-weaning and a sore throat and not yet knowing how (or why it's important) to drink out of a sippy cup and, later, not having access to outpatient services while still being an inpatient. whatever series of (unfortuanate) events led up to it, jack was severely dehydrated, without the ability to properly hydrate himself, for eight days.
i arrived late wednesday night, which was only a slight change of plans, but allowed me an extra full day at the hospital.
thursday was day four. what was new and fresh for me was four days stale for everyone else. this is, perhaps, why my perspective on it is probably so different. i had missed the worst of it. but i think it's also why the timing couldn't have been any better.
i arrived full, ready to meet their empty.
on friday, luca didn't have school, so i got to hang out with him all day. we went to target and got treats at starbucks (a coffee for me, a cake pop for him). we played hide and seek and watched his new favorite, tarzan, and colored pictures and made friends with a tiny lizard on the mailbox. we ate and talked and snuggled, just luca and me.
friday was also jack's birthday, so i went to the hospital for a few hours after dinner to give him birthday smooches in person. and, of course, take a slew of selfies –– as jack likes best.
saturday was another full day at the hospital.
and sunday was another day with luca.
we were fresh out of bed, waiting for coloring pages to print. bed head and sleepy faces and all, these are some of my favorite photos of us. (of him, mostly, because i'm obsessed with his face and his hair and his willingness to even take these in the first place.)
aunties and nephews who color together stay together. or something like that.
sunday was mostly coloring. even after we went to nana and pops' house for lunch (for TROLLS MAC AND CHEESE), the coloring continued.
on monday, i dropped luca off at school and then went to the hospital for the day. monday was the day of progress. jack went from drinking 0 ounces and swatting away any attempts we made at offering to drinking 6 ounces out of a sippy cup by himself.
on tuesday, i went home in the morning and jack went home in the afternoon.
i think the general thought, and reaction, to the realization of what this trip turned out to be is, "oh, that's a bummer." jack, in the hospital for the entirety of my trip, meant split time between the hospital and home, between jack and luca. it meant stepping up instead of tagging along. and after all of that, i missed jack's homecoming by only a handful of hours. but i can't help but think, "oh, that was perfect."
i arrived four days in, as i mentioned, and i think the timing was perfect. wednesday was the only day that week with anything on the calendar, and i was tempted to call the mom i babysit for and tell her i couldn't come; she would understand. but i chose to wait, to keep my commitment, to be still.
arriving on day four meant i came with my whole self, ready to fill in their gaps. by day four, there were gaps. there was unraveling. by day four, extra hands were helpful.
jack switched hospitals on day seven, and i think the timing was perfect. it didn't feel perfect. it made the previous six days at the old hospital feel like wasted time, like they should have gone to the second hospital first. the fact that he was drinking, sucking ounce after ounce, out of a sippy cup within 24 hours at the new hospital, and discharged the following day, only added extra weight to that should-have feeling.
those eight days were draining, frustrating, challenging, tiring, heavy. the waiting was almost unbearable. i don't have any reason to call them perfect, except i know that god is good, that he works all things for good, that he's in the waiting. maybe we will never know exactly why the timing worked out the way it did, but i know it's not because we were forgotten.
as i pulled away to leave, to drive back to nashville, i got the text that jack would be going home that day––in just a few hours, and i think the timing was perfect. i came and helped out and filled in the gaps. i put in the work and poured myself out. i didn't get to see the end results, the turned page, after all the effort, but that's not really what i did it for.
my trips to charlotte are not for fun, they are for love. when i started making regular trips after luca was born, the thought wasn't to get more baby snuggles or more face time so i'd be his favorite auntie. it was never about what i could get, but what i could give. the thing that kept me going back was the need to make sure he (and now jack) knew my love. the only way i knew to do that was to show up. for diaper changes, for bottle feedings, for holidays, for birthdays, for soccer practices, for high fives, for back-and-forth trips to the hospital and bringing luca to school.
this trip was for celebrating jack's birthday, sure. but it was always just for jack. so what if it meant watching him eat blueberry muffins in the hospital instead of smashing cake in his face at home? i am always thankful for each time i get to show up.