Three

J turns three next week. THREE! For us, this is a huge milestone. It is the goal we have all worked toward. Three, when J would catch up to his peers.

When he was released from the NICU, a social worker referred J to a caseworker with the state, and she has guided us through home intervention with a teacher, physical therapy one and then two times a week, speech therapy, and placement at a school for toddlers with developmental delays. We were always talking about the boy he’d be when he was three. Three, when he could walk and talk and would no longer need therapy.

The pattern of our weeks followed the pattern of his therapy. Naps and playdates and errands all revolved around therapy. The people I talk to are therapists. There have been times in J’s life when I’m convinced that J’s therapists knew him better than almost anyone else because they have seen him week in and week out. They follow his progress. They set new goals and check off old ones. They push him and encourage him and rejoice at the boy he’s become.

And here we are. Three.

This team of people have loved my child. Deeply and patiently. They gave me a social outlet when I had few friends in a new town and was housebound with a child who couldn’t go into public. We chat about J; they want to know everything new he is doing. They hear out my fears. They have given me priceless advice about parenting and preemies and childhood development.

This team of people know where I live. They come to my home. They talk to me by phone and text. They know my parents and my in-laws. They know where we go on vacation and what food we’re cooking for dinner. They got regular updates while M was in the NICU, and they provided a bit of normalcy during a period of upheaval for J. It is a wonderful and also intimate thing they do, coming into people’s houses and helping raise their children.

Our speech therapist has suggested we do a playdate with her 3-year-old daughter once we’re no longer clients. And our physical therapist will begin working with M in J’s timeslot the week after he turns three. M currently has one of the home teachers J had, and once she’s old enough for preschool, she’ll probably qualify for that too, following in his tiny, preemie footsteps. So, this whole community of people who have given J such invaluable resources over the last three years will continue to be our home for the foreseeable future. I can’t say I’m sorry about that because these people who love my child have also become my friends.

I hope other Preemie Parents have the same experience. I think about the children affected when I hear about budget cuts to early childhood education. Our state could have cut these resources, and our quality of life would have suffered with a baby who was 9 months behind in physical development. We have been phenomenally impacted by J’s team over the last three years.

Three. J will be three, and I cannot even believe it.

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