I made a late, just-before-they-closed run to Target tonight once we put the babies to bed. My route home was part of the route I drove home from the NICU each night. I’ve been on that road at night since (I most frequently drove home late at night), but the Christmas music I was listening to tonight changed the experience and sent me straight back to last year.
This past year has flown by – don’t get me wrong – but the babies’ first 67 days in the outside world were the longest of my life.
But we’re fortunate. We left the NICU with three healthy babies. Only one has been sick (just once), and our encounters with medical professionals have been nothing but routine visits. They’ve graduated from their specialists (I don’t count the annual, just-in-case, till-they’re-4 eye checkups), and the only hospital equipment we’ve had in our house is my breast pump.
For all intents and purposes, we truly left our NICU days behind us the day they graduated. Life with triplets is a busy whirlwind, and I suddenly, thankfully, had no more time to think about what was and what could have been.
With their first birthday just days away, with World Prematurity Day tomorrow (in 30 minutes by my clock!), and now, tonight with the drive and the music – I’ve taken some time to remember. I spent a good 90 minutes last night reading through blog entries from November and December 2010.
I read, I remembered, and I cried. I’ve forgotten so much. I’ve let go of so much. This year, this amazing, miraculous 2011, has healed so much of the pain that comes with learning to be a parent while your three tiny babies are living in boxes, attached to wires and tubes and being closely guarded by nurses, respiratory therapists and neonatologists who, much to your dismay, know more about what your babies need than you.
Tonight’s drive reminded me of the minutes I dragged into hours, delaying my drive away from my babies each night as much as I could. I remembered how the Christmas music, which I always put on in an attempt to cheer me up (and so often cried through various “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” renditions), was really just background noise as I recounted our day together, prayed for their safety that night, for their nurses to care and keep them company while I was away, for my phone to stay silent and for morning to come quickly and quietly – time for us to reunite once more.
In 30 minutes, the calendar will flip, and it will be the first World Prematurity Day. I’m not sure if I’ll be staying up late tonight, getting up early or writing through naptimes tomorrow, but I will be blogging on behalf of my three premature miracles. Last year, I couldn’t bring myself to think of them as fighting preemies and wrote in support of The Other People – you know, the people you hear of Scary Things happening to because surely those Very Scary Things can’t and won’t happen to you.
My three little loves were born five days later, 12 weeks premature.
It happened to us, and it can happen to you – with singletons, twins, triplets or more. World Prematurity Day works to raise awareness, to help prevent premature births and to help the tiniest fighters have the best resources in their corners.
Fight for preemies – maybe someday they’ll all have happy stories like mine.