We should have been celebrating Virginia's first birthday this weekend. I'm bitter that my biggest worry should have been canceling a birthday party because of the snowstorm of the decade here in Connecticut.
Allow me to sulk for a bit. I typically try to focus on the positive things about the journey that we have been on. We have met amazing people, we have watched Virginia overcome so much, we have been awakened to our faith and most of all we have been embraced by so much support from family, friends and strangers.
There has been alot of shitty stuff along the way too.
I will always be haunted by the painful and life altering things that Virginia has gone through due to her prematurity. There are few words to describe how downright awful the medical side of extreme prematurity is. Have you ever watched at 1lb 7oz baby clearly experiencing pain? I have and it is awful. I will leave it at that and instead finally let out the other things that suck about prematurity. I realize that many of these things may seem insignificant but unless you have gone through this it is hard to understand how much it can sting.
The fact that Heath never felt the baby kick. He may have caught a glimpse of my stomach jumping as she did backflips while on bedrest but we never had that moment on the couch while relaxing at home, giggling over baby kicks.
We didn't see Virginia after her birth and she didn't cry. It took 3 attempts to intubate her and we knew nothing during that time, not even if she was a baby boy or girl. That moment where parents wait for their baby's first cry? ... we waited months for that.
Our first moments of privacy as a family came when Virginia was 4 months old. The hardest and happiest moments of my life were in front of dozens of other people with nothing but rolling screens to separate our 40 square feet from the rest of the room during the most private moments.
Only those people who knew I was pregnant knew I was pregnant. At 22 weeks 1 day I drove my self to the hospital. When I pulled my car into the labor and delivery valet the man who came to open my door looked at me and then informed me I was at the wrong entrance, he clearly didn't know I was pregnant. Last summer I strapped Virginia into the carrier and brought her into my BV (before Virginia) daily lunch spot and the woman behind the counter thought I adopted her. No lie.
There was no hospital bag. No comfy robe, soft blanket or newborn outfit. We didn't even have a camera with us; forget about remembering power cords, snacks for dad, lanisoh or anything else on those mile long lists of "necessities."
We never took a birthing class but we were tormented by seeing the hugely pregnant women and their doting husbands parade past the NICU every Sunday and Wednesday for their birthing class and hospital tour.
Similarly the NICU was located next to labor and delivery for obvious logistical reasons, but this meant that there always seemed to be joyful families with balloons and flowers in hand waiting to see mom and baby as they passed by en route to go up to the post partum floor.
There was no third trimester, no registry gun zapping, no nursery furniture shopping, and no nesting.
Lastly there will never be a typical pregnancy or birth. We hope to have another child some day but it will never be what most people experience. I'll never experience labor. There will never be a natural birth. Ill never get to experience having a big full term baby immediately placed on my chest. Heath will never be the first to cut the umbilical cord. We will never go through the process as it is described in those "What to Expect When you are Expecting" books, but hopefully it WILL happily commence with a big healthy baby.
P.S. On the plus side I never had a glucose screening, group b strep test, swollen feet or stretch marks, and I was fully recovered by the time I was taking care of a "newborn" 24/7.
preemie moms & dads - what stings for you? Feel free to share. I felt much better after getting this out and having an adult beverage ;)