I have discovered through this NICU experience that envy and hope really do walk a fine line. We meet so many other parents who are going through similar situations but are on different phases of their journey.
When we were first admitted, we met a couple who had triplets. We watched as their babies were moved from isolettes into one crib together. I visited with the other mom in their "NICU suite" where their babies all co-bedded. In their bed were little tubs full of clothing. At that time, our babies were not even allowed to wear clothing or be swaddled. I envied that she was able to breastfeed her babies and that soon she would be able to take at least one of her babies home. I celebrated with them as they were able to take their other two babies home. And, while I envied all she was able to do with her babies and all of the progress they had made, I realized they were filling me with hope; hope for all the things I wanted for my babies. I recently ran into them again in the hallway to the NICU. They had come to show the NICU staff how big their babies now were. They had grown so much and looked so cute. This time I did not feel envy at all. All I felt was hope. I thought, "This too will be us in a few months. We will come back and show everyone how much progress our babies have made."
I also have met the parents of another set of 24 week twins who were admitted about 2 1/2 months after us. They came by our bedside to visit just the other night. I showed them how much Camdyn and Cade had grown. They were excited for us and couldn't believe how "big" they were. Their babies had just reached 2 lbs. each. They told me that they had just been allowed to hold them recently and that they had finally heard their son cry for the first time. Their daughter is still on a ventilator so they have yet to hear her cry. They asked me if we were able to breastfeed ours yet, and I shared with them that I just recently was able to breastfeed. They admired that our babies were in a crib together and mentioned that they couldn't wait for their babies to be able to be together. It was a strange moment for me because I had been in their shoes not long ago. While they may have felt envy for the things they are not yet able to do, I believe they mostly felt hope; hope that their babies will be out of isolettes, breathing on their own, breastfeeding, and co-bedding soon.
In the NICU, time moves at a snail's pace. You see things that you want so badly, but they feel so far out of reach. You think, "Will we ever get there?" Then you realize you are there but still have further to go. At some point on this strange cycle, you really are there, and someone else is looking at you thinking, "Will we ever get there?" So where does envy turn into hope? Is it all tied into one? Perhaps, sometimes it is envy and sometimes it is hope, but most of the time, I think the two walk hand in hand.