As I sit here in bed and everyone else is fast asleep I just can't quite wrap my head around the fact that my babies are turning one. One- how is it even possible? Anyone who knows me well knows that the weeks leading up to their birthday have been really emotional for me. I have been constantly thinking of memories from the past year, and I have been quick to tear up thinking about the last 12 months. Thankfully I have an amazing group of friends who also lived through the NICU experience that have been quick to reassure me that I'm not crazy, and we have all shed a few tears here and there as all of our babies get close to this one year milestone.
Ryan and I recently celebrated our ten year anniversary and for fun we talked about our favorite ten memories throughout our marriage. We talked about all sorts of wonderful and special memories: our wedding day, the births of our first two sons, etc. and it was later after the conversation finished that I said, "Ryan, neither of us listed the day Andrew and Kate were born." It hit us both hard that neither of us considered that day a good day and as Ryan said to me as we talked about how to celebrate the babies' first birthday, "How do you celebrate a day that wasn't a celebration?" The day they were born was terrifying; there was nothing that felt joyous or exciting. So very very different than the days James and Harrison were born. Did I feel God's presence and peace on the day they were born? Absolutely- quite possibly more than any other day in my life. There was no denying that God was intricately involved in the events of September 16th. But did it feel like a good day? A happy day? Not to us. Seeing them for the first time didn't give me the warm fuzzy feeling that my first two boys did. In reality seeing them scared me. So tiny and fragile. Hooked up to ventilators because they were not capable of breathing on their own, in the intensive care unit, 11 weeks before their due date.
Everything happened so quickly the night they were born. I remember the decision to do an emergency c- section, the NICU doctor giving us the run down on what to expect, and he didn't say anything positive, the attending doctor telling me that if we didn't hurry I would have to be knocked out because they needed the babies out ASAP. As they wheeled me to the OR I kept replaying facts in my head. I am no stranger to medicine, I'm married to a doctor and medical conversations are a part of our daily life. I'm also an extreme researcher, I had spent countless hours reading about the risks of premature births. All I could keep thinking was how every doctor throughout my pregnancy kept reiterating we needed to make it to 34 weeks, one doctor finally told me 32 at the absolute earliest to avoid most of the big serious issues and here we were, about to have the babies and we were weeks away from either of those goals.
By the grace of God our babies have made it and are doing well but not without some hiccups along the road. Andrew in particular gave me stress in a way that I hope I never feel again. Even now I sometimes close my eyes and remember seeing his stats fall on the monitors, his color changing to blue or "dusky" as it was often written on his chart, and one of my worst moments when his heart rate hit zero on his monitor. Are all of these things normal for preemies? Sure but it isn't normal for me and let me just tell you that it is different when it is your kid that's going through it.
Another reason I have struggled with my emotions over their birthday is thinking back to the other families that were in the NICU at the same time as us and not knowing what their outcome was. I think about Kate's neighbor, a sweet little boy who weighed barely a pound. He was struggling so badly and was very unstable. And I think about Samuel, a little boy who was born right around the same time as our babies and close to the same gestation. His mom was one of the few parents I was able to connect with. She was living in the hotel across the street. Her baby unfortunately after doing well at first had acquired an infection and was very sick. The last time I saw her she looked beyond exhausted and discouraged. It was dark outside and we had both been there all day. It was the day that we had been moved to the Special Care Nursery, a step down unit and she had heard that we were there. I will never forget the look on her face. She said she was happy for us but there was also this intense look of almost jealousy and longing to be in our situation instead of what she was in currently. I never saw her again after that day and as this birthday has approached I have thought of her and all the other parents, wondering if their babies are okay, knowing that some of them may have had very different outcomes than we did. And it makes it very very hard for me to feel completely happy on this birthday knowing that other families may be feeling sorrow.
So yes part of me has felt sad leading up to this birthday. The memories and also just the realization that these are my last babies. We are saying good bye to the baby stage and it won't be returning to the Holland household. But there is also a huge part of me that wants to just stand up and cheer and say "We have made it!!!!" We did it- we actually survived the first year with twins!!!
So today on their birthday I want to celebrate every milestone that these babies have achieved. I want to rejoice in the progress they have made and be thankful for all they have overcome. I want to give James and Harrison a high five and a huge piece of birthday cake because they have been awesome. This year would have been a lot for anyone, let alone a 2 and 5 year old and they have risen to the occasion and I am so stinking proud of them- best big brothers ever. I want to give Ryan a super long hug and tell him that even after all these years together somehow I have fallen even more in love with him this past year because of the way he took care of our family.
Andrew and Kate, your birthday rocked our world and changed our family forever and we are so thankful for each of you. I still can't believe I have been chosen to be your mom, and I am so grateful. Today I'm going to hold you as much and as long as I want to. I'm going to whisper prayers of thanksgiving over you, and I'm going to shower you with a thousand kisses and tell you over and over again how much I love you. It will never ever make up for the fact that I didn't get to do that the day you were born but I will forever be grateful that God gave me today with you. I love you sweet babies. Happy Birthday!
|One Month Old|