>Silence means we’re busy. Last week, my dad had surgery. We went to Cincinnati during the coldest week of the winter for a follow-up/check-up appointment for Abbie. All went well.

While we were in the hospital, the thing that stood out to me was the smell. To me, Cincy Children’s will always smell like the antibacterial soap used so often there.

I went to the NICU to visit some friends we made while there, Abbie’s speech and occupational therapists. I scrubbed in at the sink the same way I did for 25 days and went to the check-in desk. Neither lady was there, which was disappointing, but given that we didn’t get out of the ortho clinic until 5:30 on a Friday evening, I wasn’t surprised.

As we made our way to the concourse, I cupped my hands and took in a deep breath. That smell will always represent CCH and our stay in the NICU. It will always remind me of my baby fighting, being strong and defying the odds, of the every day hope that soon we would go home, of those few times I was actually able to nurse my baby, if only for comfort. Those few nursing sessions were comforting for both of us, but probably more for me because there’s not a better way in the world to bond and snuggle with a new one than to feed them mother’s milk.

This trip was different because it was the first trip back during which Abbie could walk. What a different experience it was! She could play, too. Like her big sister, she could explore and check things out.

My heart was warm, full and overflowing with gratitude as we made our way out into the bitter cold.