I vowed when Luca was in the NICU, during the first week of her life, to stay positive around her. I asked that people not cry in her room while visiting her. Tears were a big part of those early, scary days, so I excused myself often to breakdown.
We have mostly kept that rule. We make it a point to be Luca's biggest fans, her cheerleaders. I feel that she does not know anything bad right now...she only feels all the love around her. She does not understand she is in the hospital. She does not understand that she is having complications. She only understands how we present things to her.
As a result, when I hear bad news while I am with her, I respond mostly logically. I bottle up the sadness, devastation, heartbreak of seeing her go through more struggles and save it for later.
Most days, I go home to sleep. Because Luca is considered a "frequent flyer" (that is what people at the hospital call patients who are there really frequently), she knows every single nurse on the unit extremely well. She goes to each of them willingly, happily. When she sees them, she smiles wide. This fact makes it easier to leave her. Seriously, I am so grateful that the nurses on her unit are so incredible. I know they quickly get to her if she wakes crying. They snuggle her. They give her love. As a result, she sleeps through the night. However, I do not when I sleep there. In fact when I do stay there, I am up a lot while she sleeps through it all. So I go home to sleep.
On really rough days, I can feel all of the emotions of the day building up as I walk to my car. The closer I get, I can feel it building from my stomach, up my chest, into my throat. I get into my car. I give the parking attendant my ticket, and as soon as the gate doors open and I exit, I do not make it to the light before the tears start rolling down my face.
My car tends to be the place where I let all of my fears out. I cry, and cry, and cry. The whole 35 minute drive, I cry my eyes out. Sometimes alone. Sometimes while on the phone with one of my dearest people in my life who just sit and listen, or cry with me.
My car has become a place to let my guard down. I can let all of my fears wash through my head and escape through my tears. I can pray. I can talk out loud - which I often do (and the people driving next to me probably assume I am speaking into my ear piece for my cell). I can let my anger out.
It was not something I consciously thought about as being a place of quiet. It just happened over time. To the point that I can feel a sense of relief as I get into my car, knowing that I can breathe and cry and let it all out. And then by the time I reach my destination, I have let it all out. I can walk away and feel more free. I can put on a happy face on go on with life. I can be Luca's cheerleader, hide my fears, and be the positive person she needs me to be, knowing that I have a place to go when things get to be too much, and I need to let it out.