"Here, watch this," Brian said, handing me his iPod.
He had been showing Kathleen a short video of her from earlier this summer when she first learned to go down the little slide in our yard. She watched the first few seconds and then looked up at me and earnestly repeated slide, slide, slide. Then she saw herself go down and said Whee!
When the clip was over, she poked at the screen, unintentionally starting the 15-minute montage Brian put together of Henry's life.
"Baby!" she said, and Brian told her it was Henry. They watched a few seconds, then he handed it to me.
He was in the NICU when I got it, in my arms, just waking up. I haven't watched any of this footage in a long time. I notice how much his chest moves, how hard he is breathing. Did I notice at the time? Did I get so used to it that it didn't register?
I'm okay until his smile the morning before his surgery. That's when I start to cry.
I watch a solemn me holding his hand a few days after surgery, waiting for him, willing him to wake up. I note the angry gash down his chest. I half-smile through my tears at the cordless dance, when we twirl around the CICU, free of oxygen for the very first time.
I beg him not to pull his NG tube out as he fiddles with it in a later clip and notice that his scar has healed nicely. I smile again as our favorite nurse bends over his stroller to say good-bye to him and another favorite hip checks her out of the way.
And then we are home. Henry is asleep in his swing. Brian pans the camera over to me. I am not listening to the sound, but I know I am telling about our efforts to leave the hospital, being forced to turn around in the storm, stumbling back to the hospital through the snow carrying Henry and his oxygen. I am daunted by the med schedule ahead of us, but so, so glad to be home.
You can see the haunted look in the back of my eyes from what we've been through, but over that the relief. We are home. It is incredibly important to me that we got Henry home, but it is never enough. I see that relief now, see the me who had no idea that within hours everything would come crashing down.
While I watched and cried and felt myself go limp, I was also pretending to laugh as Kathleen tickled my toes. My baby who's here, my baby who's not.
I find myself wondering again, how did we get here?