Having a child changes everything so the saying goes. It's true; it does, but having a micro-preemie (or two) takes your life and swirls it around like Dorothy's house dropping it with a thud in a place that may as well be Oz. Nothing is the same. Everything becomes before and after. Nothing that you worried about previously matters, and everything that you worry about now matters. If concerns are not "life or death", you don't have time for them because you now know that "life or death" is not just a saying; it's all too real. That is life in the NICU.
The four and a half months that we were in the NICU felt like an eternity. Time moved at a warped speed. Each day, each week, each month seemed to drag on forever. Recently, a mom who is in the NICU now asked me how I got through it. I didn't have a magic answer for her. I only told her to accept help from family and friends. That's the only way the rest of my life could go on. Friends volunteered to watch Brenna while I went to the hospital and family and friends brought us meals. You can only deal with so much at one time, and when you are dealing with watching your babies struggle to live, there isn't a lot of room left over for anything else.
At my dance studio, my sister and all the teachers and staff took over to run the business. I will be forever grateful for that. There was no way I could run the business at that time. I hate to admit it, but I simply didn't care. Thankfully, I have a wonderful staff who took over caring for me when I couldn't. The only thing I cared about was that my babies would live and that they would be able to come home to live with their big sister, mommy, and daddy.
I remember nurses telling me that years from now I would look back on our time in the NICU as "a distant memory." Maybe enough time hasn't passed because it's far from "distant;" however, I am pleased to say that it no longer consumes my entire being. Not a day goes by that I don't think about the fact that my twins were micro-preemies. I watch them sleep and marvel at how long they look in their cribs now and think back to seeing babies less than the size of a ruler curled up in their isolettes. It's never "distant" in my mind. These reminders pop up throughout my day, and I thank God every time they do. Then, I move on. I am more than a micro-preemie mom. I can have other facets to my life now. I can become passionate about dance again. I can run the business I worked so hard to create. I can spend time with my husband. I can take my kids to the park.
If I could change things, I certainly would. No one wants their children to be born 16 weeks early only weighing a pound each. But, I can't change that for them. They will have to work harder to do what comes easily for other children. They may have lasting effects from their prematurity. I pray it makes them stronger individuals. I know they have made me a stronger person. I'm a different person than I was before they were born. I don't fret over trivial problems anymore. I take nothing for granted, and I thank God several times a day for all my blessings. Those first four and a half months, I felt numb. The first year, I felt like I was in survival mode followed by exhaustion with so many doctors and therapy appointments. Now, I feel busy, but more importantly, I feel happy to be me again. It's nice to be me again.