The feeding program evaluation went well. Charlie will attend the intensive feeding program this spring/summer. I should receive the dates any time now.
Charlie will be three soon.
Three. Years. Old.
It feels like it has been at least twenty years since she was born. Maybe, that is because of the seemingly endless infancy stage. For example, we finished regular late night feeds a few months ago, she continues to be formula dependent, and there is no end to diapers in sight.
Or, time could be dragging due to the monotony of a schedule packed with specialist and therapy appointments. Possibly, time crawls due to the high levels of stress and emotional exhaustion that accompanies micropreemie parenting.
Whatever it is, these last three years have felt infinite. When I look at NICU pictures or Charlie’s baby book, it feels like they are artifacts from forever ago. I barely remember my life before Charlie. My memories feel like someone else’s, not mine. I have grown and changed so much that I hardly recognize myself. It has been a long three years. However, there is one aspect that has flown by… our Trail Quest.
The point of the quest is to visit all thirty six Virginia State Parks. It started out as a way to survive lock down. Then, it evolved into an adventure Charlie and I shared. Sometimes, we include my husband, our dog, or both.
We have fun on our outings. We make memories. We relax. We play. We learn.
The other day, I sifted through our numerous photos from the parks. Everyone of the photos feel like they happened yesterday. I finally understand what people mean each time they say, “They grow up fast.”
Before looking through the pictures, her growing up felt anything but fast. The life depicted in the park pictures is how it was “supposed to be”. That is what I signed up for when I wanted to be a parent. The park visits are part of our “normal”.
Last Saturday, we visited our thirty third state park. We are getting close to the end and I’m surprised to find I’m a little sad. It was about the adventure and not the goal. I expected to feel nothing but celebratory when we finished.
Darn, those complicated emotions! Will the thirty sixth park be the end of our park obsession? No. One reason why is that the state park system is working to add more parks. I suppose we will never truly be finished. Plus, I’ve noticed that each park is a very different place as seasons change or as Charlie and her skill set grows.
From time to time, I mourn the loss of the pregnancy, baby, and toddler experience I didn’t have. But, I’m so grateful for the one I do have. I feel fortunate for every minute and second… even the painfully slow ones. Charlie attended a Tyke Hike (a hike for two to four year olds) on Saturday. These two pictures are from that hike.