I had to take two of our herd to the vet this morning. Nothing disastrous, just annual check-ups and shots. As with any well visit, weigh-ins were involved. Maizy, the Yorkie, comes in at 9 pounds 4 ounces. Want to know what my first thought was? “Wow, that’s almost five times as much as Big Man weighed when he was born.” Seriously. I’m not kidding. That’s what I thought. “Who does that?” you might ask. I would almost guarantee every preemie mom will have similar thoughts. Apparently, preemie mom brain never goes away, because Big Man is 14 years old, and I still do it.
We were in Vegas in November. We got to hang out with a friend of ours we haven’t seen in awhile. His daughter was supposed to be two months older than Big Man. But she’s a month younger. That always kind of feels weird to me. He was supposed to be a New Year’s baby. Instead, he’s almost a Labor Day baby.
Those comparisons come into my mind over the most random of things, like picking up a gallon of milk, knowing it is heavier than he was at birth. Or holding a ruler, knowing he was just a little bit longer than that when he was born. Always at the holidays I think about what should have been, and what was.
There were times in the NICU I actually thought how lucky I was to see three months of what is usually hidden inside a mother’s body. I had three more months of actually seeing my baby. How’s that for odd? Granted, he was covered in tubes and wires, endured tests, procedures, pokes, prods and other things babies shouldn’t have to go through. He had to learn to breath and eat well before his body and brain were ready. He had to endure touch, light, and sounds that should have been muffled as he grew inside me. But I got to see him.
Maybe preemie moms have these thoughts, even years down the road, because we’re trying to put our experience in understandable terms for other people. Maybe it’s because we’re still stunned at what we and our children went through. Maybe it’s due to the fact you get used to your infant being so ridiculously small and have to remind yourself just how small that really was. I know part of it is true pride in the strength of my boy and all he’s overcome, as well as gratitude for the miracle of his life.