By | September 13, 2017

Children grow up so fast, don’t they?  It seems like just minutes ago they were still in Momma’s belly.  I guess that’s because they were.  Eat your heart out, Doogie Howser.

My kids were accepted into Neonatal Intensive Care University (NICUniversity or NICU for short for those who don’t have miniature geniuses).  They were given offer letters at the tender age of 5 minutes.  Better yet they received a full academic scholarship from Horizon Blue Cross.  Proud doesn’t even begin to describe the rush of emotions we are feeling.  Our kids are finally off to college to spread their wings.

My wife was feeling a bit under the weather and cut open, so I accompany my daughters at freshman orientation.  We move them into their dorm rooms, which are actually really tiny and incubatory, but still quaint and cozy.  You could say they are a little embarrassed to have their dad shadowing them so closely. Of course they pretend like they didn’t really know me.  I mean, c’mon, I’ve known you your whole life!  That’s so like them.  Newborn college students, amirite?

The teachers are extremely helpful and friendly.  They go into detail with everything we can expect.  The teachers show off all the coolest science lab equipment like the heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, and infant warmer.  They note that my children’s test scores show that they are doing really well in school, but that they also exhibit an apparent apathy towards breathing.  Like that sometimes they just, you know, won’t do it.  Our girls are happy to demonstrate regularly how the pulse-ox works as they enjoy scaring the bejeezus out of us.  Of course we promptly enroll them in Breathing 101.  The teachers aren’t worried at all by this, but those first few instances are reminiscent of Squirt flying solo in the EAC.  When they know, you’ll know, ya know?

After orientation, I figured I would check on their mother.  She is recovering nicely and just needs some rest, so I decide to make a surprise visit to my new college students already like parents do.  Don’t worry.  There are no American Pie moments to share.  After about 10 minutes of staring at them like a creeper, I spend another 20 minutes looking around to see how short is too short for me to stare at my newborns.  I love my girls more than anything, but like a solar eclipse, I can only stare at them for so long before I wonder what the hell I’m doing.

I return to my wife’s room.  Shocked and appalled that I have returned so quickly and that I didn’t wear my eclipse glasses, I attempt to explain how weird it is to just stare at another human.  She didn’t understand.  Once she feels up to heading over to see the girls, we slowly make our way.  I expected them to have their heads buried in books like good students.  Much to our dismay, we find them on a tanning bed!  Ugh, as a Millennial, I have to say I don’t have high expectations for Generation Z based on what I’m seeing here.

Within a couple weeks, the girls could be spotted sporting LuLaRoe leggings and ridiculous rain boots.  They never leave the dorm, so what’s with the boots??  Unlike Daddy, the girls do not find the FroYo machine of much interest.  Nor do they start binge drinking on the reg.  This is a problem because we actually need them to binge drink milk so they can put on the Freshman 15.  Not exactly party animals when all they do is sleep.  What good is peer pressure if they’re not gonna give in?

After about a week at NICU, we receive a call from the Dean.  Thing 1 was written up for projectile pooping in her dorm.  The Dean ultimately decides both girls should be relocated to a new dorm in the honors program called Special Care.  This is as much a punishment as it is a reward for learning how to breathe regularly.  Here they get to sleep in a box instead of an incubator.  Talk about moving up!

Something clicks in the honors program for them.  They start to eat and grow and punish the eardrums of anyone nearby with deafening cries.  Maybe it is us.  Maybe it is their teachers.  Or maybe it is Principal Joe Clark setting these kids straight.  Regardless, we are eternally grateful for all of the NICU staff for the development of our two little girls.

After four long weeks, our girls are poised for graduation.  They just need to pass their final exam:  the car seat test.  Fail the car seat test and you are destined to repeat senior year.  Luckily, both girls pass with flying colors and they are on their way home to the nest, armed with a well-deserved college degree.

So now that they are home, how long does it take for your kids to get a job and leave home once they graduate?!?  Asking for a friend.

2 Replies to “The Big Bang, Part III: …And Off to College”

  1. Christine Schumann

    I had no idea you guys had such a rough time. I’m so happy to know that everything turned out so well now!

    1. Mike Post author

      Thanks, Christine! That means a lot.

      Honestly, we (the parents) didn’t have it all that bad. The apnea thing is very typical for kids born that early. The first couple of times it happened, I mean they’d go a minute without breathing and alarms start going off, it was terrifying. But when you saw the nurses not freaking out, you kind of learned to not freak out, if that makes sense.

      And being surrounded by babies in worse condition, and staying in the Ronald McDonald house with families who had kids in worse shape made us truly appreciate how lucky we were. So it wasn’t easy for us, and obviously not easy for our kids, but at the time it felt like a walk in the park because of our surroundings.

      Seriously, those nurses taught us how to take care of kids lol. I’m more impressed by parents who have to go straight home!

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