I can’t believe my “babies” are on the verge of two. When I look back at this picture, I still remember the smells of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so clearly. There was the soap, and iodine and hand sanitizer. That hand sanitizer always sends me right back to 2013. And then there was the plasticky smell of the breathing masks. There was the smell of the harsh chemical wipes we used to sanitize those big pleather chairs, which we shared. Sometimes there were no big comfy chairs, and you had to wait, hoping some other mother would leave her baby so you could settle in for a snuggle. Then there was the smell of the rubber gloves we wore when handling the wipes to sanitize those chairs. There was the comforting smell of those freshly-laundered yellow towels. The nurses often warmed them up in the microwave to keep us toasty. Somewhere under it all, there was tiny baby smell, buried under cotton hats and masques and Pampers that went up to their armpits.
I think they were both on CPAP by the time this was taken, and I can still hear the burbling noise of the Bubble CPAP machines. There was the feel of little squirmy baby limbs, which I should have been feeling somewhere on the inside instead of out, and the little foamy mouths from the CPAP. There was the hum of the feeding machines with a big syringe of yellow milk. For B that machine would compress that syringe over two hours or 90 minutes, as her tiny tummy could not handle it any faster. This picture sends me right back there. I can’t believe they’re two.