Okay, so I felt a little dirty and self-indulgent after writing that entry yesterday. Here’s hoping this one is more meaningful. 🙂
So I follow this Facebook page called Life after NICU that has a lot of good tips for moms of premies. My baby was not early (well, unless you count the fact that he decided he wanted to come out a day before my scheduled C-section), but we had some problems in the last 10-15 weeks, and he spent three days in intensive care for special monitoring. Thankfully, he was in great shape at birth, and after a couple follow-up visits with his specialist until nine months, he has a completely clean bill of health. Three days in intensive care isn’t a very long time at all. But there are aspects of the premie experience that really speak to me, like the fact that I didn’t get to hold him the day he was born, and the weeks of worrying (mine happened before he was born, not after, but I think the anxiety is similar) So it’s been a good resource for me.
The whole experience opened my eyes to many things. The first, obviously, was how thankful I am that my baby is healthy and happy. His birthday (he’ll be a year old tomorrow!) was the happiest day of our lives, not only because we finally got to meet him, but because we knew he was going to be okay. But what I also realized was how amazing people can be, namely the people who make it their life’s work to take care of others. You will rarely hear me speak about religion on here, because it’s really personal for me, but I kept looking around the hospital where I had my son thinking “God lives here.” We were surrounded by the smartest, most caring people ever. These people could have done any number of things with their lives, but they chose this. There is something really inspiring and hopeful about that.
In the first few weeks after we came home, I have to admit I asked myself repeatedly, “What am I doing with my life?” I kept thinking of the doctors and nurses who took care of us and comparing their work to mine, and I’d come up short every time. People are performing surgery on babies in utero and saving their lives! What am I doing for the world? I’m singing and writing. Does that really help anyone but me? Does it matter?
I don’t think it necessarily does. I think it is very possible to make a career in the arts about yourself without even being conscious of it. And, for the sake of honesty, I will say that part of me continues to pursue some opportunities because I simply love what I do and want to keep doing it. But this stage in my life has showed me what else is possible.
I’ve always liked performing for worthy causes. In 2010, I helped my friend (and now baby’s godfather, too) Ken throw a concert to benefit the ALS Association, and we raised over $4000 in one evening. I’ve helped friends with other benefit events and had a great time. When I was in the hospital, EVERYONE kept asking me if I would sing something, and of course I said no because I felt like hell on legs (seriously, even clearing my throat was shockingly painful those first few days.) I kept putting everyone off, saying, look, if you take really good care of my baby, I will throw you a benefit concert. So they took me up on it, and in October, Ken and I raised around $2300 for the NICU where my baby spent his first few days. I think people really enjoyed themselves, and while I know $2300 doesn’t do a ton for a hospital’s bottom line, everything helps.
That was a good night. But it was just one night. And I really have this strong desire to do more. Every time I read an article like this, it makes me wonder how else I could use my powers for good (ha). I mean, I would totally volunteer to go sing to babies, but there’s no way that’s allowed. Some strange non-employee entering an intensive care ward? That wouldn’t have made me happy when my baby was there. There’s no way.
So what else do I do? Healthcare will ALWAYS be expensive, so raising/giving money will never be a bad idea. But, beyond that, I just really think that if music has such amazing healing powers for premies, I should try to bring it to them. We know I like to sing lullabies. Maybe it’s time I made an album of them to donate?