In some ways, I get tired of all the repercussions of the Internet and smart phones and people always being so distracted by technology. I guess I am a Luddite. I think we should get more fresh air. I think we should have less distractions. I think we should have boundaries that protect family time from the encroaching working world.
But, I cannot imagine having preemies without the support of other Preemie Mamas. This has been a lonely four years. The loneliest of my life. It's the nature of having small children. It's what happens when you have a baby who can't go into public. Just the schlepping into and out of the hospital for five months isolates you because your heart and soul remain trapped in that NICU with the baby you leave behind everyday. It's just so lonely.
I've emailed and shared Facebook messages. I've blogged and read blogs. I've texted some of my worst fears to friends I've never even seen in real life. And without that support, where would I be?
It gives me such great joy to share my experiences with other parents in similar circumstances. I need to feel needed. I need to feel that I'm reaching a virtual hand out to other families like mine. Sometimes, this part of my life is so dominant that I wonder how it won't always define me. How will I leave this all behind? It seems so consuming to be something in my past to which I casually refer when someone asks me at a consignment sale what size baby clothes to buy (like I have any clue).
I run errands. I pass people I don't know. I shuttle kids to and fro. I smile and make polite conversation, all while I carry this baggage. We all have baggage, so I don't mean it as a complaint. This baggage is mine, and I wouldn't trade it for someone else's. It's just that when I feel so disconnected in my day-to-day life in a place that has never felt like home, I find a home among people I've never met in real life. They have been friends to me when I've been in a black hole. And this is the beauty of technology, of blogging and texting and Facebooking. With everything humans touch, there is good and bad, and for me the good of technology has been forming communities with people who share my experiences. Less than 1% of women in this country have experiences that mirror mine. I would never connect with this preemie parent community without the benefit of technology.
So, this morning, after a series of Facebook messages with another Preemie Mama that both broke my heart and made it whole again, I am thankful for all the women who have supported me. From afar.