Two years ago today, my girls were preparing for their journey home from the NICU, though it wouldn’t happen for another eight days. Of course, prior to their early arrival, I envisioned myself either giving birth or preparing to, given it was my due date, and Braeden arrived the day after his.
I didn’t know then, when the girls were born at 29 and 5, but being a preemie mum has taught me so much about love, life, and parenting. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from our journey so far;
1. Time flies much faster.
All parents know that you blink an eye and your precious newborn becomes a full fledged kid just like that, but seeing as preemie parents get extra time with their babies, time really flies. Thinking back to the tiny doll – sized diapers, the pumping, the exhaustion, and I’m amazed at how long ago it was, and how GIANT my girls seem now. Just today, another twin mum stopped me and asked about the girls, and when finding out they were preemies, she was shocked, “just look at them now!” Two years flew by so quickly that in a blink of an eye my girls went from snoozing itty bitties to chatty toddlers likethat.
2. You really can’t sweat the small stuff.
At the beginning, I had no idea if I’d get to bring both my girls home, and many preemie babies don’t get to, that exhaustion, spit up, diaper explosions, misbehaviour, or just generally not having it together seems so unimportant. A gentle reminder to yourself about how far you’ve come is sometimes enough to realize no tantrum is that insurmountable.
3. You’re so much stronger than you know.
I knew I was having preemies, but had no idea what that would mean. There is no preparing for the NICU or prematurity or bringing home a baby, or two, who were born too soon. If someone had told me while pregnant how our story would begin, I would have hid in bed with the covers over my head, refusing to accept it. I stayed in a relationship for fear I couldn’t do it alone. And yet, we are not just surviving, but thriving. Did I feel strong then? Do I now? Let’s just say I’m working on it, but I recognize that had I not been strong, I would not have been in a good place to bring home my girls and take care of Braeden. I often say I didn’t have a choice, but of course I did. We always do, and I chose to be who and what my girls needed when I didn’t know I had it in me.
4. You will have angry days.
The other mum in the park talking to you about feeling massive at 37 weeks or having someone telling you how hard tracking milestones are or really someone looking at you the wrong way on the wrong day will bring about your angry bear. You’ll hate how unfair life is, how this happened, how anyone could complain to you about being pregnant and huge when all you wanted was to be able to have a belly and wear maternity clothes. But, knowing that anger is a completely normal feeling, and that it isn’t anyone’s fault, including your own, that this happened, will prepare you for beginning to process what happened and remain in the present with your babies.
5. Our babies are so special.
Their stories are truly remarkable and when you think back to how those two pound babies fought so hard, and how so many extra people got to witness their amazingness, it really brings about how special they are. As my girls get bigger, I will get to tell them their story and show them the diapers they used and watch as they realize they are absolutely remarkable.
6. You’re doing an amazing job.
I am the last person to toot my own horn, and sometimes I don’t realize how overwhelming it has been for me, but I do know one thing; I love my kids and would do anything for them. Am I the world’s best mum? No. Is anyone? Probably not. We all have rough days, and then we have good days. Sometimes we collapse, but then we build ourselves back up and give our kids cuddles and tickles and pushes on swings, and though every part of our body remembers what it was like, we don’t allow the memories to take over. We just keep on being amazing and raising amazing kids.