It’s been a year since my twin girls were born, and as strangers ask me their age, I hesitate. Do I tell them their real age or adjusted age? Depending on my mood, I often will say, “they are one, but they were born at 28 weeks.”
That’s usually met with, “little miracles!” or “they look healthy now.”
Now? That word always bothers me, though I understand where the stranger is coming from, but the term now, takes on a different meaning and feel. My girls were born in late October at 28 weeks, and one NICU nurse told me, that probably would be home by Christmas. While another NICU nurse told me that they’d be home probably by their due date. Yet another nurse said, maybe spring.
As Thanksgiving came and went, and as Christmas approached, I knew they wouldn’t be home and as I begrudgingly put up a small Christmas tree and felt a twinge of sadness at every happy family going Christmas shopping, I told myself that I was lucky that my girls were ok. I’d witnessed enough so far with other NICU babies, that I felt that even though I wouldn’t have them this Christmas, at least I still had them.
The NICU nurses had a crafty staff, with ornament making, footprint items, Santa hat photos of the girls. As we got ready for the long day we’d be at the NICU, I was mentally preparing myself not to make this a somber moment, next year, I told myself, would be different.
We arrived at the NICU to sleeping babies, but we had quite the list of to-do’s — bathe the twins, feed them, and kangaroo care. We decided to have our Christmas meal at the hospital, and as we were given free hard as a rock Christmas cookies, I told myself, next year, this will be different.
It never really occurred to me, that besides my somber attitude that was hidden by a smile, that the NICU nurses had to do this every year. My next year would be different, but their next year would be the same – dealing with concerned parents and watching over preemies.
While you’re in the NICU with your baby(ies) it’s easy to have tunnel vision. It’s easy to not pay attention to the world outside and though your focus is your babies health, you have to remember that there are other things, bigger things happening around you.
So, this Christmas my girls are now one, crawling and trying to stand on wobbly legs, I feel blessed at their growth and continually impressed by them. They struggled into this world and now they fight to catch up. The new normal – was a phase that I used a lot when I would see the girls in the NICU, our new normal is constantly changing. My life is busy, chaotic, and sometimes frustrating, but when it comes to Christmas, I always take a moment to think of the NICU nurses. To remind myself, there are bigger things happening, there are people who are in my shoes from last year.
At Christmas time, it’s a great time to take a step away from yourself and look at the world around you. You don’t need to give money or presents, but simply by giving your time or lending an ear to someone, helps you take a step back and reevaluate your current situation. I’ll never forget the kindness and patience of the NICU nurses and as Christmas approaches I strive to be uplifting to someone who may be stuck in their own tunnel vision or struggling silently.
Guest Blogger Jen Labriola/Graphic artist for The Gift of Life
Follow author Rosie Moore https://www.facebook.com/author27/