I go back to work tomorrow. After seven months. I’m looking forward to using that part of my brain again. At the same time, I’m sad this chapter is ending, my leave, “family bonding time.” This chapter also held the hardest, scariest and most challenging times of my life. More than half of that was spent in hospitals. I'm not bitter about that... ok maybe a little bitter :)
Last weekend I went to my first yoga (or any kind of exercise) class in nearly a year. The teacher read a passage about courage written by David Whyte. Find most of it here. The part that moved me was the end,
“From the inside, it [courage] can feel like confusion, only slowly do we learn what we really care about, and allow our outer life to be realigned in that gravitational pull; with maturity that robust vulnerability comes to feel like the only necessary way forward, the only real invitation and the surest, safest ground from which to step. On the inside we come to know who and what and how we love and what we can do to deepen that love; only from the outside and only by looking back, does it look like courage.”
When we see people for the first time since all this they often talk about us being brave, about our courage. The thing is, we were just living, we were getting through what was tossed (or maybe catapulted) our way. We’ve shared this with you all here without knowing the outcome of our story. You’ve been a part of this too (remember the Cam Cam?!). When we started writing here it was to simply give information to our community in an efficient way. To save our emotional strength for growing a baby and not having to repeat it all over and over again. It became so much more. Along with Boppers becoming Cameron, our community grew and strengthened, and we felt it. We’ve felt so much strength from you all.
Our friends who also had a preemie, told us, at around 30 weeks pregnant that some day this will all feel very far away. It’s true, reading back through our early entries reminds me of that. Today we have a different life. Today we had a picnic with 8 families who've had stories like ours. 10 babies who were born within a month of Cameron (between 30 and 35 weeks pregnant). We met them in ante-partum or the NICU. These families became additional support systems while they were also in the thick of it at Kaiser. Then we went out to dinner with another lesbian couple who we met while we were all trying to start our families, our sons at the dinner table with us. Our life is full of dirty diapers (THANK YOU!), wondering how it’s possible that Cameron is hungry again, and trying to catch all the new things he discovers each day (today he’s finally started to brrrrrrr and blow his lips together). This is our life now, today.
Cameron’s recent surgery was much harder for me than anticipated, a lot of trauma resurfaced, and I wasn’t expecting it. We had 10 days which was basically a combination of ante-partum and the NICU, with lots of challenges and deep emotional exhaustion. We’ve had some additional heath scares, not shared here and met with many new types of specialists. Overall Cameron is very healthy (aside from his pesky scar which is infected again.. grrr…) For most people whose water breaks at 25 weeks this is not the case. And we see them, and know them and meet them. And for most parents these challenges are random. But for every child, no matter how they survived, or not, it’s not their fault, they did nothing wrong. I’m working to re-frame how I think about disabilities as “bad luck” because in some ways that implies lesser. We were very close to a different life, and it wouldn’t have been a lesser life. It just wasn’t what we had expected. We think, I wouldn’t want that, but then- it becomes you and you realize, this is my child, so now this is my life, and let’s move on, figure it out and grow together. And I think that’s parenthood in a nutshell. At least that’s been our experience.
We know that there will continue to be challenges, health scares and heartbreak; we hope the worst is behind us. But if it’s not, we know we can survive even if things look different on the other side.