Sometimes chicken, chips and salad taste absolutely incredible.
And it has very little to do with the chicken, chips and salad.
Like when we were sitting in a room with a dear friend, a mate, a brother, who had jumped in the car and travelled 1.5 hours to bring this meal to us.
It tasted good because it was greasy and salty.
It tasted good because it was a break from buying hospital food.
It tasted good because it was eaten in the company of a friend,
who couldn't change any of the circumstances we were in,
but had come to sit with us, in them.
We had been in the hospital for a few days. Our boy had moved from NICU to High Dependency and then to Low Dependency. This is the direction you want to move in. He had lost some of the various tubes and masks and breathing apparatus, and we were finally allowed to hold him. We had been told we would likely be discharged the next morning.
things turned backwards.
Up until this point, we had been feeding Noah through a tube.
It went in through his nose and delivered Mama's precious milk into his little stomach.
We would sit by his bed, and slowly squeeze milk from a syringe and watch it move through the tube.
The thing about this way of feeding is you can pull the syringe back to check the contents of the stomach.
So, I'm treasuring this moment of feeding the little guy by squeezing milk through a syringe,
because when you can't do the things you thought you would be doing on day 4 of your child's life
(like sticking them in baskets of soft stuff and taking photos)
you'll still enjoy any interaction you get
- and then a nurse pulls the syringe back to see what's going on in Noah's stomach
and it fills up with dark, chunky liquid
things turn backwards.
Move him back to High Dependency.
Put all the gear back on.
Poke around to find a vein and put
the drip back on that tiny, fragile arm.
Try not to miss, again.
More pricks on the foot, more yelps of shock and confusion
you'll be hear for a few more days
when Phill calls
like he has every day prior
I am crying.
I have been trying
to be strong man
for tired wife
and unwell son
but it is shit
feeling like the journey home
through the front door, as a new family
has just been taken away from you again.
And you wonder,
is this what it means to be a parent?
just when you think things are secure
your gut can be flipped upside down
in a second
and so a few hours later
when you are worn out from emotion
and you do not know how to answer people texting to ask how things are going
chicken and chips and salad
with a good mate who is happy to just listen
can be the best tasting meal imaginable
and when the same friend takes all your dirty washing back to the Coast
(because you didn't pack for an indefinite hospital stay)
and brings it back the next day all clean and dry
and you have other friends bringing care packages,
full of colouring-in books, healthy snacks, thoughtful notes
and you can feel the prayers of your faith community
already invested in this human they are yet to met
and when you finally do arrive home,
to watered plants
cards in mail box
and meal after
as days pass
reflux rears its head
sinks in its heels
and you move from that intense and dramatic struggle
to this more generic, ordinary, marathon
where normal is very hard
and yet here,
you have friends
lending you cars
and still bringing meals
and loving you
beyond what you have the capacity to return
this is when you realise
it may take a village to raise a child
but right now
it feels like the village is raising the parent
and maybe that
is exactly what the child needs
and if the parents are taken care of
then there's a pretty good chance
is going to
So to the village
of incredible humans
who have loved us
beyond what we have the capacity to return
on behalf of my child
thank you for helping raise this parent
and showing me