Most people who meet the muppets coo in amazement at what tiny babies they are. But donâ€™t let that fool you. We now have jumbo babies.
Today was the NICU Preemie Party. The hospital holds an annual event â€“ inviting all the graduates back for a reunion. Parents get to come and show off their quickly growing offspring, nurses get to see how well their charges are progressing and hundreds of kids get to run amuck at a large-scale play date. I was very excited to bring our own 2010 graduates.
We spent the morning gathering all our gear, then loaded everything into our massive stroller and went trooping down the street to the park. I wasnâ€™t sure where the gathering was going to be, or even how big I should expect it, so the three of us took the long route around the park and weaved our way passed various crowds trying to see if we recognized anyone. I began to notice a higher than average number of double strollers passing me â€“ headed in the direction of the park arbor picnic area. My Encyclopedia Brown powers of deductive reasoning inspired me to follow the three sets of twins and one family of quads.
It was kind of fun to be around so many families of multiples. Even in this era of Kate Plus Eight and Octomom, people still seemed to be fascinated by twins. â€œOh my goodness! Twins?! Are they natural?â€ (And of course, there was the one person who observed our stroller last weekend and inquired, â€œAre there babies in there?â€) But today, nobody gave a second look at twins. All conversations were around ages. How old were they when they were born and how old were they now.
On the other side of the colorful kids play area, bouncy houses rose before us like the fabled Emerald City of Oz. Multitudes of little ones were running toward the gathering, screaming with pure joy. From all sides, nurses were gasping with incredulity at how big all the kids were. (â€œIs he going into kindergarten this year?!â€ â€œWell, no, heâ€™s twoâ€¦â€) Once admitted, I made a circular round of the set-up, taking care not to take out any prior preemies with our beast of a stroller. (Everyone was very understanding. Most of them had equally large units of transportation.) There were booths with spin-art (remember that from the mid-80s!), face painting and a magician with a real-live bunny.
It was so wonderful to see so many big healthy kids running around. Iâ€™m sure it was absolutely fabulous for the nurses to see â€œtheirâ€ kids. But even though I didnâ€™t personally know the families, it was tremendously heartening to know that the preemie predicament was just a distant memory for the parents â€“ and nary a thought for the little ones chasing each other around. Being graduates of only two months, the muppets were some of the youngest attendees. One ex-preemie was 23!
My favorite part was seeing our nurses in the â€œreal-world.â€ Far, far away from the sterile hospital. Nurse June and Nurse Susan seemed very excited to see the boys. (And just because he loves them, Search made sure to be just as stinky for them as he was in the NICU.) It was observed that both muppets look the same â€“ just a lot chunkier.
I wonder if Search and Destroy remember their nursesâ€™ voices. Search definitely seemed a little concerned while Nurse June was holding him. Of course, that particular look may have just been the consternation that there was no more milk in his bottle. (Gone are the days of fighting to get them to take an ounce in an hour.) Destroy didnâ€™t socialize all that much â€“ â€œCanâ€™t talk. Eating. Growing.â€
Weâ€™ll definitely be back next year. But Iâ€™ll likely have less time to chat, since Iâ€™m guessing I may be chasing toddlers in 12 months time. So while weâ€™re congratulating our 2010 NICU graduates, go ahead and save-the-date for sometime in June 2028 for their high school graduation.