Flashback

Our friends’ twins are doing well. Born just shy of 34 weeks, they are in open beds, their daughter on the CPAP and under bili lights, and their son on a nasal cannula more for flow than for extra oxygen. We’ve been on call for their other son who’s almost 5 months old and just an absolute dream. I got to finally see the twins today (they were born late Friday night), and what a flood of memories that brought back.

In 16 days, my twins will be two. Two years and 16 days ago, we began this journey into motherhood. Two years and 15 days ago, I saw my son for the first time in the NICU, on a ventilator and antibiotics for an “unknown” infection. Looking at our friends’ daughter in the NICU on the CPAP, I fought back tears. Partly for knowing that this club, this membership in the “I have had children in the NICU” sorority, is one that I would wish on nobody. And partly because it was an instant flashback. The room looked different, but that knot in my throat was the same.

I remember seeing him for the first time in that tiny bed. I had no idea what to expect. Hours before, the neonatologist had told us that he had “graduated” to the vent and they were going to give him surfactant. At 36w3d gestation, nobody expected either of the twins would have issues.

I was still so weak I had to be wheeled into the NICU. The instant I saw him, I started crying. Guilt, fear, and post-partum hormones took over. And even when the nurses told us that all we were doing was getting him strong enough to come home – and that this was not a case of “if” but just “when,” it still doesn’t make that lump in your throat go away any faster.

The moment you see your child for the first time, you know you’ll do anything for them. The moment you see your child in the NICU for the first time, you realize anything isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need someone else too. And it’s very humbling – knowing you’re strong enough to carry them inside of you, endure childbirth, but not strong enough to keep them safe once they cut that umbilical cord.

I stood over that NICU bed today, with our friends’ daughter under the blinding blue lights, and I sent up a prayer that both of the twins’ stays in the NICU is short and ordinary. B & K, we love you already, and C & S, thank you for allowing us the honor of sharing in your joy.

For B & K, and for all the NICU babies out there:

“”it is hard to be brave,” said piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.” rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: “it is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us.”” — the complete tales & poems of winnie the pooh

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