It’s been a busy month! December is always a busy time for us, what with Christmas and the boys’ birthdays. This year, though, marked our first busy January. The boys were baptized on January 1st, which was a special day for them, and we were able to have a huge gathering of our immediate families here in town and in our home for them. It was a happy day, and we’re so pleased for our boys. Since everyone was here, we also had an early birthday party for the babies. THAT’S RIGHT–the babies are a year old!
It seems hardly impossible that just a year ago, I was taking this picture.
I know, depressing, right?
But I’ve been thinking a lot about that time today. As I sat by the bathtub this morning, watching the babies splash and play together, I suddenly flashed back to that dark time and remembered just how difficult it was to imagine that I would ever be able to bring my children home.
At 10 days old, the babies were both still under 4 pounds. Rowan was on a central IV line because his blood sugar was so low, and both babies were on feeding tubes (receiving a teaspoon or so of milk every three hours) because they hadn’t developed a sucking reflex yet. Each tiny little millimeter of progress felt like a huge step toward going home, and yet the days when there was no progress felt like someone had shattered all hope of their ever leaving. Any step backward, and …well, you can imagine. Though I had no idea at the time, I still had more than a month to go.
And so, that was my life–a continual holding pattern over which I had no control (and I’m so good at having no control!), just waiting for my babies to grow. And learn. And heal. A few days of that seems doable. A few weeks is something you can batten down the hatches and muscle through. But let me tell you, once you hit the one-month mark, your sanity implodes. At least, mine did. It was the hardest time of my life. I’d never felt so alone, or so helpless. My husband and my family were right there to help me, and people were constantly asking what they could do. And yet I still felt completely isolated by the experience. It’s something I was only able to get through with prayer, and an experience I’ll not share here. But suffice it to say, I do know that God is aware of each of us and the struggles we go through daily. And I know He loves us.
In any event, just like the doctors said they would, the babies “somehow figured it out.” (That’s exactly the term they used. Doesn’t it sound so science-y?!) They learned to eat and regulate their systems and finally, to keep themselves warm. Then suddenly, randomly, on Valentine’s Day, of all days, I walked into the NICU and discovered my babies in open cribs–the sure sign that the long days are coming to a close. The nurses took pictures of them in their cute new beds and made cards for me that said “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mommy! We have new cribs!” I cried. Six days later, they came home.
I still have those cards.
And now, a year later, my babies are spunky, sweet, mischievous little stinkers. They’re still tiny; at a year old, they’re just 14 and 16 pounds. They look like six-month-olds. But they’re perfectly healthy–something I never could have imagined, particularly for Rowan, after the way he came into the world. I never planned on having four children. I always say the joke was on me. But really, I can’t imagine a more amazing punchline.