Not that long ago, I can remember asking myself, "Will I ever get over it?" Their prematurity, that is. I still don't know the answer to that question, but I feel a sense of relief that the thought no longer plagues me like it once did. I still think about their prematurity every single day, and I am not exaggerating. It's usually just a fleeting thought sweeping its way in to my consciousness and then quickly dissipating. Rather than causing a post-traumatic feeling (which does still happen on occasion), the thoughts instead serve as reminders of how far they have come and how blessed we are. I never thought I would say this, but I rather welcome the thoughts now. How many people are reminded every day how lucky they are? I can honestly say that I am.
Take last night for example. We took the kids out to eat pizza. We sat outside and watched the kids run and play together as we waited for our food. Here's a look inside my head at that moment, "Thank you Jesus that they can run. Wow! We are so lucky." Then back to normal. "Cade, don't poke that stick at your sisters. Kids, come back closer to the table!"
Later the pizza arrives. The kids come running to the table. "My want pizza!" Camdyn asserts. "I hung-wee," Cade adds. We load the kids plates, and watch as they scarf down the pizza. Camdyn eats 2 whole pieces - as much as Brenna. Cade eats 2 whole pieces plus 2 rolls! Once again in my head, "If I could have only seen this when we were tube feeding them, when Camdyn took 45 minutes to drink 1 oz of milk every single time, when Cade gagged on everything that touched his mouth, when I made myself sick with worry about getting a g-tube for Cade, when we fed Cade drops of milk from a syringe to get him used to the idea of anything in his mouth, when I felt completely out of control not being able to feed my kids." And now, it is so easy. I ask Jim, "Did you ever see this happening?" He answers that he could always see it. He always is more optimistic than I. I couldn't say the same. I didn't always see it. I had no idea if Cade would be devouring pizza or still be tube fed at age three. In preemieland, nothing is certain.
So, will I get over them being born 16 weeks early and enduring a 4 1/2 month hospital stay full of scary news and endless fear? Probably not. Fortunately, for me, the memories feel different now. To make a preemie comparison, I felt like I was on a ventilator for their first year. I pushed through fighting for a chance to come up for air. The first year was loaded with uncertainty and struggle. By year two, I had moved to CPAP and eventually cannula. Breathing became easier, but I was still fighting - fighting for therapy, fighting insurance, and fighting my fears. Now as we are approaching year three, I finally feel like I am at 21% (threw that one in there for all you preemie moms out there who know exactly what I'm talking about.) It's room air - what we all breathe. I'm there folks; I'm at room air!
. . . And because no preemie comparison is complete without a few lasting effects. Every now and then, we still break out the old nebulizer when times get tough, but we know that room air is just around the corner.