I don’t have a photographic memory but I can tell you exactly what I was doing on November 1st, from 2008 to probably 2012. My head was tilted to the side, probably leaning on some doorway, either in reflection or in search of a two second nap and I was watching my kids, in a moment when they were calm, and marveling at how far they’d come. I was probably even saying to myself “look how far they’ve come” then turning to NICU pictures, reminding us all about bilirubin lights and suck-swallow-breath prayers. Still very anchored to their beginning, I knew the moment Prematurity Awareness Month started, I probably woke up at midnight to pin a purple ribbon somewhere and visit the March of Dimes site.
As years have passed, new stories have piled on top of the preemie stories and, although they are always there, I have to brush the dust off a bit to go through the pages. A week into this November, I looked at my kids, and leaned my head towards the doorway, possibly looking for another two second nap and remembered.
It’s November you guys! It’s November! This is a month for preemies and you guys are preemies, you’re so big now. Do you want to see how…
You tell us this every time mom. We kno-oow. McKenna not-so-lovingly interrupted me, trying out the eye roll, a developmental milestone of age seven.
And then someone pulled the arm off a Transformer and then I think something spilled and the conversation was over. But I took those few seconds. I found them somewhere in the day and I keep sneaking them in when I find them. I’ve thought about the beeping of monitors and untangling cords and that walk into the NICU when our favorite nurse caught us on our way in, announcing that McKenna was finally off the ventilator. I’ve watched bike rides differently and tried to appreciate the noise around here and have just reminded myself that we are lucky.
Four of my five children were preemies. Things could have turned out much differently and in some ways they did. Losing one will forever remind me how close we were to losing two or three or four. Three of my children defied the odds, one tried to but her little body just couldn’t. My story of birthing preemies and daily NICU vigils has slowly become their story of being here, sticky handed and snaggle toothed. Today they are more interested in the Frozen soundtrack and where I moved the Halloween candy than pictures of where they began.
For now it’s my job to remember November. To take out the memories and share them despite eye-rolls. To remind my children where they came from and how long it took them to get to where they are right now. As they head into years of small problems that seem huge to little selves, I’ll take out their stories of fighting hard and tell them how indestructible their spirits are. A part of them will always be those tiny babies, surviving in a world they weren’t quite ready for.
If forgetting how they began is part of their job, then reminding them is part of mine.
Powered by Facebook Comments
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
Post like these they will cherish one day as they really do mature and appreciate the miracle of how far they’ve come! Your love for them oozes from every word. So sweet. The 7yo eye roll keeps it real, too.
And that’s the thing–you just keep reminding them, Jessica. You are the voice of so many by sharing your story and the way you love your children endlessly is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this!
Amy Flory - Funny Is Family says
As mothers, we are keepers of the stories, even when our children don’t want to hear them. You are a gifted storyteller, and an excellent story keeper. Hugs and prayers to you and your family during this month of remembering.
Catherine W says
They are so very lovely Jessica. All of your children are lovely.
Always remembering your precious Hadley Jane and celebrating your lovely McKenna, Parker and Sawyer.
From one mother with fewer ‘after’ pictures than she longed for to and trying to forget and to remind both at once xo
That single picture of Hadley blurred my eyes through the smiles of the rest of my precious grands. Remembering and mourning and celebrating with you.
Yep, it was so hard to post this without an “after” picture of her.
Kathy at kissing the frog says
I was steeling myself for the no after picture. Hugs to you – you’re such a strong mom. One day these stories and pictures will be so precious to them.