On this day, at 9:00 pm, four years ago, I was well into the premature birth of our first child, Jacob. That was a shocker. Nine weeks before his due date, a few hours from my stepping on a plane to go to this tiny town on the edge of Texas for work…my water broke.
At the time of the hospital tour, the one we took two weeks before his birth, we ambled through the NICU, glancing around at the strange world, never thinking that we’d be sitting there one day, watching every breath our baby took.
It wasn’t a cold kind of disconnectedness, it was simply that naive, state of mind that things like that just didn’t happen all that often. After all, that what to expect when having a baby, the book women can’t manage two seconds of their pregnancies without, suggested not reading certain chapters unless thrust into the position of needing to. Upon being thrust, it’s too little too late.
By the time I was staring at my teeny Jake through plastic, and tubing protruding from areas of his body that aren’t even orifices, it was too late to understand what was happening. All I did was feel. Wonderful and crappy at the same time.
There are endless and varied reasons a baby might end up in the NICU and reading up on all of them would be horrible and psychotic, but the mothers I know who were prepared to deal with the NICU handled it so much better than someone like me. And the second time, with Beth, it was easier in some ways.
Luckily, Jake has grown up beautifully, though not always easily. He came out rearing to go and hasn’t stopped since. With the last push after the doctor said he was going to be in “trouble,” I pushed so hard he flew out and landed on the little extender thingy at the end of the bed. That’s what I love about him. The boy has shit to do. He’s got a plan. He’s got a schedule. Some kind of freaky internal need to pursue life like a forty year old with an arm’s length “to-do,” list imprinted on his brain. But he’s smiling all the way. Except when his schedule is compromised…breached…or thrown asunder by mean old me.
There could have been so much wrong with him, the list was long, but beyond his immature nervous system (not an official diagnosis–other than the child development specialist’s opinion–and ours) and being inconsolable first six months of life (if he was awake, he was screaming), he has moved along as though he was born on time.
Could I feel more gratitude? Luckier? Happier? More in love? No. He’s absolutely perfect with all the requisite human imperfections. And at the end of each day I’m in awe of what I’ve learned about life, from him.
I’ll get some pictures up just as soon as I learn how to put them up!!!!