My husband and I are almost three years into our journey of parenting a preemie. A short amount of time that feels like forever.
In anticipation of the upcoming Parents of Preemies Day, I’ve been asked to write about what prematurity means to us today. The abridged answer? It’s complicated.
You see, currently, I’m angry at prematurity. My anger flows in waves.
At first, I was angry that prematurity nearly stole my first and only child’s life. Then, I was furious because of the long term repercussions it has on her life (CP along with speech and feeding delays). That fury was followed by outrage due to the complexities and strain placed on my family life by having a preemie. Now, I’m irate because it extinguished my hope for having another baby.
But, I’m not only angry.
Despite the anger, I feel incredibly lucky. I am fortunate my baby survived her early arrival. I’m thankful that she exceeded doctors’ initial expectations. I’m grateful for the imperfect and unconventional life we have as a family.
However, I’m saddened.
I mourn the pregnancy I didn’t have (mine ended at twenty six weeks). I lament the typical newborn and toddler experience that was taken from me (we spent over 100 days of her first year in the hospital). I grieve the second baby who will never be.
On the other hand, I’m hopeful.
I’m optimistic that one day we will finally leave all the therapy, specialists, and orthotics behind. I believe that she will one day “catch up” to her peers. I look forward to possibly adopting in the future.
The preemie parent club is a club I wish I didn’t belong too. Even though there are other members, it is a lonely journey. I find it difficult to relate to other non preemie parents because in my world five pound newborns are huge and intake is measured in mL. I feel disconnected from the moms I see in my everyday life. A trip to Target usually involves picking up a prescription rather than coffee or shopping. Most parents claim that time flies. However, I’ve found it creeps by slowly while waiting for another appointment to begin or striving for that next elusive milestone.
As it turns out, I’ve found no meaning in prematurity. To me, it is a collection of emotions such as sadness, anger, grief, rage, loneliness, gratitude, hope, and, most importantly, love. Love is what keeps us from falling apart and helps us find joy in our everyday.
Being a parent of a preemie is not the life I’ve planned for or chosen but, I love it nonetheless. Though the journey is tough, I’m so grateful that she’s here. I can’t imagine our lives without her.