The day that could have been

March 20th, the first day of spring, and the girls’ due date four years ago. I often reflect on this day as it gets closer. The day doesn’t cut as deep as it once did, especially the first two years; when they were still in the NICU and their due date came and went and the following year where I recognized how strange it was to only have one year olds developmentally when we had already celebrated their birthdays two months before.

Today I wonder about this day. The day that could have been. If the girls hadn’t been born so early, if this day was their birthday and today we celebrated turning four, what would have changed? I wonder about the girls’ personalities, so ingrained since they were still holding down the fort in my belly, but would the resilience be there? Would they still be so empathetic? Would they be the same if their lives hadn’t started too soon?

Raegan recently had an appointment and the nurses kept saying how calm she was! How patient! Most kids won’t sit still! And knowing that normally that girl is a ball of energy I wondered if that calmness came from the experience of being through the gamut as a tiny baby and then after as she grew. Did being born premature normalize being in a hospital more than it would for other kids? Are those beeps and bells a comfort that connects her to her own experience that she couldn’t even remember?

For Ella, has the challenge of physical limitations made her love life more? Her infectious laugh at some of life’s silliest moments could be because her view of life and the world shifted when she had to work just that much harder to get the things that she wants.

There’s no way of knowing for sure, of course, but I suspect that those girls are who they are because they were born ten weeks early, because it took them 80 days to breathe fresh air and have spent years going from hospital to hospital and appointment to appointment that their beings were changed slightly in the best way because I couldn’t have asked for two happier, sillier, funnier, more loving, or empathetic girls, and of course that day changed me, those 80 days changed me, and I couldn’t parent in the way that I do if we didn’t all become resilient together.

And so, happy due date, baby girls, no matter the coulda woulda shouldas, I wouldn’t change a thing about you.

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