Monday, April 02, 2012

Time Has Not Healed This Wound

My fourth child was born 3 months early.  I've told the story here.  For years I could not look at a photo of a premature baby--any baby--without crying at the sight.  For years it seemed like the event of Isaac's birth and the surrounding months was some sort of touchstone:  Before that happened.  and After that happened.

When we were in the NICU I would sometimes think that someday in the future, maybe when Isaac turned 1 or 2 or 3, I would take him back there and announce ourselves so the nurses and doctors on duty could have the fun of coming out to see what a strong and healthy boy he had become.  I saw people doing that while I was there, and the staff told me how much they loved those reunions; how it inspired them to remember that the small babies in their care would grow up and many of them would be just fine. They told me they hoped we would come back, send cards, and let them know how our story turned out.

When year one approached, I thought about taking him back.  Even being in the same general building for checkups in the NICU Grad Clinic felt much too close for me.  I didn't think I could walk down those familiar NICU halls or speak to the medical staff without just crying my heart out.

I felt the same every single time I have ever considered taking him on a here's-where-you-started-your-life tour.

I thought I might have gotten past that, until today.

Today Isaac is 12 years old.  I don't remember the last time that I thought of my timeline in terms of Before and After that happened.  On the way to our homeschool group this morning, we were hastily trying to figure out what we would do for our class presentations, since we hadn't planned or practiced any.  For Isaac, I suggested, "Maybe since it's your birthday you could talk about your unique start in life.  You could tell about how you were so little that your biggest brother said you could fit into a tissue box.  You could tell about how you were such a rambunctious little squirt that the nurses would constantly find you having scootched your way into a corner of your "bread box" isolette."

He liked the idea, but didn't have time to organize all of the ideas, so I offered to write up his presentation for him and give it to him in time to present it.

I wrote it.

I gave it to him.

The time came.

He began:

"Today is my 12th birthday, so I'm going to talk to you about my unusual start in life.  Most babies spend 9 month growing inside of their mother before they are born, but I was born after just 6 months...."

and I started to cry.

It was both surprising, shocking, and familiar.  The stark sadness of the words that I myself had written just a few minutes before jumped right out at me as if it was fresh, bad news.

Why didn't I know this would happen?!  I'm not going to be able to pull out of it.....

Poor kid.  He got about one sentence farther in his presentation, to the first giggle about the tissue box, when he looked up at me and saw me crying.

That did it.

I was blinded by my tears at that point, but next thing I knew Isaac was making a beeline straight for my arms, both of us crying and crying.

Phew.  Lawsie.   Gotta take another deep breath.

Thankfully, we have a very kind, supportive, and polite group of boys and moms in our class.  They were the perfect combination of sensitive, understanding, and kind while moving on to something else while Isaac and I sat, intertwined and crying, for at least 20 minutes.

Just when I think we've moved past the pain;  just when I think it's far enough in the past that it won't jump up and bite....Boom!  There it is.

And it was today.

Many people go through things so, so much worse than what we endured.  Many people do not get the excellent outcome that we have experienced with our son.  Yet, "logical" or not--the pain is real, the trauma can still be raw, and time has not yet healed this wound.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Sniffle. That's so beautiful. You did good, mom.
Happy 12