I’ve been wanting to write a memoir for my daughter for some time now–a sort of super-hero-origin story about her first seventy-seven days on planet Earth. It’s not for lack of trying. It’s just that, whenever I begin, I always seem to forget how much I’ve compartmentalized so much of the raw emotion from that time. Never mind that my daughter is nearing her second birthday and has pretty much closed the developmental gap between her actual age and adjusted age, whenever I think about the morning a neonatologist called to tell us she had developed a localized staph infection, I swallow hard on the memory of her lying on her back in her isolette, her right leg swollen and locked into place.
Even so, I feel compelled to write about prematurity because we as a family have learned libraries-much along the way. After chucking our copy of What to Expect into the recycling bin soon after her birth, the internet became a lifeline that helped us ask our doctors smarter questions and helped our extended family not drive us crazy by peppering us with questions at rather inopportune times.
I don’t claim any sort of expertise on the subject of prematurity outside of my family’s experience and all the subsequent research I’ve done on the subject, but it is in the pragmatic spirit of sharing, at least until I return to work, that I begin this blog–to help parents ask their doctors smarter questions, to help extended families not drive said parents crazy by peppering them with questions (the worst is the how-much-longer-did-they-say question; the what-did-she-weigh-today question is a close second, but only when asked multiple times a day).
This will also be a blog about mommying. Because despite what the ickle baby miracle stories on the five o’clock news might suggest, prematurity doesn’t magically end when the infant (at that point a newborn in terms of development) finally leaves the hospital with glowing, magnanimous parents. There are sleepless nights, to be sure, but there are also the weekly (at least at first) consultations with pediatricians and pediatric specialists, complicated dietary considerations, and the financial stretch that is put to families who are trying to keep their kids out of day care for the first year (RSV just one of the big bad baddies that hugely affects infants who were born with underdeveloped lungs).
Despite all these challenges, because of all these challenges, I’m a much better mommy than I might have been in other circumstances. I’ve learned how to keep an eye on developmental milestones while simultaneously living for the moment–and my daughter has been the best teacher of all.
Our NICU nurses had a saying, ‘right kind of babies, right kind of parents.’ It’s a phrase I’ve held onto on particularly challenging days (“I may not be the best mommy in the world, but I’m the right kind of mommy for you”) and have quietly cherished on low-key mornings: her with a bagel, me with a coffee, and Mickey on the television, urging us to say the magic words.
Come for the prematurity stuff, or even the mommying. Stay for this peek into our little world.