Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Spot I Will Miss

The backyard before we made it our own.

I had a dream last night that we sold our house. I must be practical even in my subconscious, because I worked through the entire negotiation phase in my sleep. And when we were done, I was so happy. I didn’t feel any sadness about leaving this house at all.

When we put our house on the market a few weeks ago, it was with great relief. After months of weekend projects and nonstop cleaning, I couldn’t wait to be done with it all.

With each showing, I ask myself if I’m really ready to leave this place.

This was our first home to own. When we bought it four years ago, I walked around the perimeter, examining each brick, thinking to myself: I own every brick on this house.

When we bought this house, I was newly pregnant. Everything was fresh and exciting. The world sparkled, and those four walls housed so many hopes for our future.

Nothing turned out as I had planned it.

I discovered the house was fine, but I desperately wanted to relocate it. We had moved three times before, and never had I disliked a town like this one. I felt stuck before I even knew how stuck we were, because six weeks after we moved, we had J 14 weeks early. Now, that is stuck. When you have a baby in the hospital, then you know what stuck is.

Our house was both a refuge and a prison, depending on the moment. I both loved and hated it. It was solid and well-built. We made it our own. We made it a home, but it was always temporary. And we were always looking toward the future, when we wouldn’t need downtown NICUs and high-risk doctors and specialists, when we could cut our ties with this place.

After we listed it, I walked around the house and took notice of all we have done to it. Our touches are in every room. I am so sentimental, and this is the home where I brought my NICU babies. So, I was surprised to discover that everything that matters really can be boxed up and taken to our new life. The house has so much baggage for me that it won’t be a bad thing to start over again, in a place where the world sparkles.

I commented to my husband that for every good memory in this house, I have a sad one.

But, there is one spot that I will miss, a place in the middle of the deck my husband built. It is where J took his first steps. Where I sat, pregnant with M, and watched J play in the backyard. Where I pushed babies in a swing. Where we dined outside at our travertine table with company. Where my husband and I listened to the chatter of birds as we discussed our future. It is the only part of this house that is all joy and no sadness.

There it is, the one spot I will miss.

The winter before the deck was finished 

A tired mama sunning with her baby

I looked out the back door one morning to see this...

J and his kitten

I was pregnant with M when this photo was taken.

The wisteria in the spring 

Lunch with NICU friends

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Waiting To Walk

It took J forever to walk.

By forever, I mean 17 months.

Actually, in retrospect, I thought it took J forever to walk, but now I have M to put his development into perspective. M always has this effect on me. She is nothing like J, and her story is nothing like J’s. She is exuberance to his reserve. She is fearless to his caution. She is defiant to his obedience. She had 3.5 more weeks in the womb than he did, which any preemie parent knows is just about a lifetime. She also had two rounds of steroid shots to develop her lungs just before birth; J did not.

M is almost 16 months old. By adjusted age, she is nearly at the point when J was hanging onto his walking wings for dear life, taking his first steps of hard-fought independence. Despite all their differences and her perceived advantages, it appears that she will walk no earlier than he did.

If J changed everything in my life, turned it all upside down and inside out, then how could M be such a surprise? She has shown me that even when you think you’ve made sense of the world, you probably are still just a sweet, little babe in the woods, naïve about your own naivety. So much of my frustration with J was misplaced because I compared him to unfair goals and children who weren’t born prematurely. Now, I realize that every goal he met, every step of forward progress he made, was nothing short of miraculous.

Not to take anything away from M, because she has overcome odds too, but it was J who was thrown to the wolves at 26 weeks with so many challenges. In his caution and reserve, sometimes we miss the magic of his accomplishments. They aren’t done in explosive fits or with gleeful giggles, like with M, and so sometimes we look up one day and find that tiny changes have compounded into J becoming a totally different child.

Now, as I await the tentative first steps of another late walker, I also realize something else. The early years of raising premature babies are different from the norm; in fact, they are vastly different. And even though the kids are all different too, there are some commonalities that preemies share that we cannot escape.

It doesn’t seem to matter that M’s personality is nothing like J’s, or that she’s a girl and he’s a boy. It doesn’t seem to matter that she crawls and he didn’t, or that she had 25 more days of development in utero. Here we are at 16 months with a baby who isn’t yet walking. And in my world, that is perfectly normal.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Blogcation

Well, I took quite a spring break from the blog! I do have three pretty good excuses:

1. We're in the process of selling our house, so we've spent hours upon hours over the last few months getting the house move-in ready, for someone else. It has been daunting with two little kids--and two dogs--underfoot, but it will be worth it.

2. I had some major computer problems, so for two weeks I didn't use my computer at all. It forced me to get my documents and photos in order, which involved editing over 1,000 photos from the last nine months! It also forced me to detox on Facebook and all the blogs I follow, which has freed up some time to read books again. In another few days when everything is in order again, I'll be glad I was forced to tackle all of my computer woes and to detox on all my favorite websites, but in the midst of it, I was pretty ticked.

3. Finally, J had a bad case of pneumonia during early April. It was his first serious illness since he left the NICU 3.5 years ago, and it was terrifying. But, you'd never know he was sick now.

I have many ideas for blog posts, and I've missed writing regularly. I also have loads of photos that are finally edited and ready to share. We all need a breather from time to time, so hopefully the blog will benefit from my month-long blogcation.