I’ve written about it before…when you’re cruising along, living your daily, busy, kid-activity-fueled life and WHAM! a thought, a song, a smell, a sound will steal your breath, leave you in tears, or with that giant, can’t-swallow-past-it lump in your throat. Yeah. That. I read a lot of other autism blogs, a lot of other parental blogs, a lot of other mom-of-preemie blogs. But sometimes it’s something someone who has had a completely different experience who will say something that immediately strikes a chord within me, plays on some of my biggest fears, my biggest hopes.
I can look at Big Man’s NICU pictures and not lose it anymore, usually. But sometimes, some days, looking at them is so painful. He’s good. He’s fine. He’s “normal”. He breathes. Yay, right? Get over it momma, right?
Here’s the thing…I remember EVERYTHING of the days leading up to his birth, the day of his birth, and every day following his birth, until he came home. I sat by is bedside as he was poked with one more needle, jabbed with one more line, moved, turned over, weighed, tested, x-rayed, given yet another ultra-sound, examined, shone over with bright lights, flinched from unexpected noises throwing up his tiny hands in front of his tiny face trying to block the stimulation. I held him down as the pediatric opthamologist put that thing in his eye to hold it open so he could be examined for retinopathy of prematurity…twice. I cupped his head with my hands when he squirmed in pain, unable to reach any other part of his body for the wires and tubes and lines connected to him. I learned to rub his back, chest, leg, or foot to bring him back from an apnea/bradycardia episode. I’ve watched as he turned gray, stopped breathing, and his heart rate dropped like a rock, holding my own breath while praying for him to breath. I’ve fed him through a tube. I’ve bathed him while he had a nasal cannula blowing oxygen in his tiny lungs. While doing all of that, my biggest hope was he would remember none of it, consciously or subconsciously.
I believe he is a different person than he might have been had he been born full-time. He had so many hands on him, months before he was even supposed to be born. I was away from him the first five days of his life, and every night after that until he came home. He was put on a necessarily-regimented schedule from day one for feedings, diaper changes, test, administering of medicines, temperature-taking, and weighing. Who would he have been had he not endured all of that? He is comfortable around people. I firmly believe he is that because SO many people had a hand in his daily life from birth. But more than that, how would his brain be different? How would he be different? He is feisty and determined, but that is just him, who he would be regardless of birth. Did his night terrors when he was little stem from the trauma he endured? Would he have asthma if his lungs hadn’t had to work months before they were prepared for the outside world? Would he be taller, bigger, stronger? Would he have the ADHD which held him back early in his educational career?
I think about that trauma sometimes, and that’s when it gets to me. And I continue to pray his brain, his heart, his soul, his subconscious, his whatever, never remembers it….that he isn’t damaged because of it. He’s healthy. Amen. Now I worry about the rest of it. Maybe that’s borrowing trouble, but for me, it’s admitting ALL my momma’s heart truly faced and continues to face in the light of his prematurity.