Today is World Prematurity Day, a day where we celebrate and honour all babies born too soon. Days like today inevitably lead me to reminisce about our beginning. Flipping back through old Facebook photos, I am amazed at how small those girls were. The smallest babies I’d ever seen. In some ways that time was decades ago, history written in the sand. And in a flash, I’m back in that NICU room, lights dimmed, alarms ringing, a wave of staff floating in and out.
Ella had a doctor’s appointment yesterday where she was weighed; 30 pounds. Raegan is 28. Ella is 95th percentile for weight. How this tiny bean of a baby, smaller than a sack of sugar has grown so much that the idea she could have been anything less than a giant curly haired beam of sunshine seems impossible. And Raegan, my goodness, my Raegan. She is sassy and hilarious and has curls for days and I’m reminded of how she escaped her little isolette jail, wiggling all over the place determined to never ever sit still.
Those first 80 days seemed impossible to combat, but since then it has felt like constant impossible battles that we have faced; some seemingly insurmountable even as we are climbing the wall together. The reality of Ella being in a wheelchair hovers around me constantly like a full cloud waiting for the perfect moment to unleash the rain within. So, for now, I walk with an umbrella in my purse until I no longer need it.
I am amazed by all three of my kids constantly. How silly and ridiculous they can be, but then so incredibly smart and aware. How they ask questions and want answers and how they really are more like triplets; all three of them making the same facial expressions and gestures. The girls sounding so alike when they talk. It seems crazy to me how big Braeden is; how he too was still just a baby when his sisters were born.
I also think about where we started and how we got here. Living so close to amazing nurses, doctors, therapists, and hospitals. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to wake up in my own bed, that I haven’t had to leave two of the kids behind simply to take Ella to a plethora of appointments. How I’ve been able to access equipment and programs that have helped Ella get stronger and more confident.
As we get closer and closer to the girls’ third birthday, we move away from the NICU and move onto other chapters of our story; preschool and making friends and discovering that there are many more heroines than Elsa, though she does make a mean castle. And yet those days in that room are still so close to my heart, they are quickly being replaced by cuddles and giggles and soft curls. One day, a day like today will be marked by my tough as nails daughters showing how mighty preemie babies can be.