What It Felt Like to Bring My Child Home From the NICU After Birth

A year ago today, we headed home after being in the hospital for six days after our son, Theo was born. The nurse walked us to the door and then we had to wait for my husband, Turner. I remember another couple coming out with their new baby, and I asked her birthday and they said two days ago — code for “we weren’t in the NICU.” They seemed tired and honestly, not that happy.

I remember looking over at Theo and thinking we know perspective in a way most parents don’t learn in the first days, or maybe ever. We experienced what might be the hardest start to parenthood and Earth-hood (for Theo) that’s possible.

I felt the full throttle of emotions, but I remember trying to soak in the feeling of relief and pride. That was my first lesson in mothering Theo, as much as my mind traveled when I looked at this other family and what they “had.” When I did that, I lost the feeling, a feeling we had earned and had hoped for. I let it slip away by not fully seeing my baby and my story.

Waiting in that lobby and the first drive home both evoke similar emotions to much of my experience this year as a parent. When I think Theo isn’t listening, doesn’t know me, or doesn’t understand, he gives me some sign that he absolutely does.

He shows me time and time again at his own pace, in his own way, and with his own manual that he is right there.

But if we worry too much about what he isn’t, how our path stands up against others, or look at it all from the wrong angle, we won’t find him. We won’t see Theo.

I go back to that moment and treasure it, even with its heartache and even in the times it feels like a fight to find the peace with it. I feel the wind coming in with the windows down riding alongside Theo in the backseat. As we neared home, I felt the heartache again — the worry, the confusion. Just like so many times this year, even in really beautiful moments. It’s fleeting, these feelings of gratitude, hope, and pride. They can be easily overshadowed by the magnitude of everything else.

So, I’m remembering this day, this drive, this simple moment where for the first time, we were a family of three driving home and just being together.

Theo, the author's son sleeping in a carseat with a stuffed animal

(Happy Birthday Theodore Lewis Stusick Binkley. Thank you for stretching our minds, filling our hearts, and for being a little human who takes marching to the beat of his own drum to the next level. We love you.)

Follow this journey on Instagram at Theo’s Village

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