Perspective

M a few days after she came home

M a few days after she came home

I saw a friend’s preemie for the first time today. Her tiny preemie body reminds me so much of my babies, especially M, and I told my friend just that. But, I didn’t tell her that that little preemie body brought back such a rush of emotions, good and bad. It wasn’t so long ago that I was in her shoes, or shoes like hers. Just 18 months ago, I had a tiny, 5-pound 2-month-old at home. As stressful as it was, that time was so fleeting. Even then, I’d watch her sleep, and I’d say to myself, “Soak it in. She won’t be 5 pounds forever,” because with J it sure felt like forever but it didn’t last. Though M didn’t gain weight for three weeks after coming home, she did gain, and now she’s my wild thing, so mischievous and full-of-life. The two images crash in my minds eye, that fragile baby and this wild girl.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll escape the shadow of the NICU. It finds me even in the most joyful moments. Actually, that is its home, because every joyful moment is made more so by the knowledge that it all could have ended differently. It makes me clutch my children in parking lots and kiss them a few extra times at night and sneak back into their rooms at night to watch them sleep. It makes me quicker to apologize, and it also makes me quicker to challenge the kids in the ways they need to be challenged. If I hadn’t spent the last four years with babies in therapy, would I assess their development they way I do? Would I be frustrated that I’m a stay-at-home mom, when I never planned it that way? Would I look people in the eyes when I know they’re suffering and tell them that I can’t fix it but I wish I could?

It would all be different, but then none of us–our entire of family of four–would be who we are now.

I don’t think I will escape the NICU, and maybe I shouldn’t try. After all, the whole reason I relish M’s ferocity in life is because when I met her all she could manage was a kitten’s mew. Perspective is everything.

M now

M now

 

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