“Reminds me that I want to be homeward bound…”
Early September, and Simon and Garfunkel were on the car radio. Like so much in those days, the lyrics stopped me in my tracks.
Earlier that morning, one of the doctors had said, out of the blue, “I mean, she could probably go home tomorrow. She’s doing great.”
Tomorrow? Tomorrow? All the sudden, I was the dad who had his baby coming home from the hospital – and I realized how dramatically unprepared for this I was. Emma had been in the hospital so long before she was born – continually since she was 27 weeks gestational – that I had never done the things one needs to do to prepare one’s home.
“WE HAVE NO CRIB!” I shouted in panic to the poor intern as I grabbed my keys and ran from the room. “I HAVE NOTHING!”
In the elevator lobby I ran into family members, who inquired as to where I was going. “CRIB!” I yelled. “TOMORROW!” I gesticulated. “GAHHH!” I gurgled as I ran down the stairs like a madman.
Flooring my aged Subaru, I rocketed to the nearest baby stuff store. Continuing my Muppetesque mania, I ran crazy-eyed into the newborn department and found a young crib-clerk. “MybabyiscominghometomorrowbutIhavenothingshecansleepinCRIB!” I word-vomited in her direction. Somehow, she understood, and we settled on a crib.
“Is there anything else you need?” she asked, and then the floodgates really opened. What else did I need?
“Omigod I have outlets. ALL OVER MY HOUSE. There are little electrocution holes waiting to kill my baby all over my house. WHAT DO I DO?!?”
We added outlet covers to the cart.
“Every cabinet I have is full of baby death. Every single one. There are knives and pots and pans and bleach! Bleach kills babies right? WHAT DO I DO WITH MY BLEACH?”
Cabinet locks? Check.
“Wait. Just wait a second. I CLEANED MY CARPETS WITH CHEMICALS! Give me every single plastic sheet in this building before someone gets hurt.”
“I don’t think you need those, sir.”
“But…CHEMICALS. Oh no! WHERE DO I PUT HER POOPY DIAPERS?”
Hundreds of dollars later, I had enough plastic safety products, diaper-disposal products, plastic sheeting, baby furniture, diapers, sterile water, formula, sheets, blankets, and everything else imaginable to get an orphanage through two long winters. It filled my car, and the little bells and electronic songs made their tinny noises as I backed out of the spot.
“Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me.”
I pulled back into the parking spot, and turned off the ignition. Pausing, I turned and took in the mountain of stuff in my car, and it hit me: Emma was coming home. The end of hospital life was in sight. I could sleep in my own bed, eat my own food, have a hot shower that included water pressure.
I could tuck my daughter in for the night, and be entirely responsible for her care until I tucked her in the next night.
While “tomorrow” turned out to be optimistic, it wasn’t too many more tomorrows before we made it home, where the electric outlets were safely plugged, the bleach was locked behind impenetrable catches, and where every night my love lied waiting silently for me to collect her the next morning.