It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything really personal about Rowan and the whole preemie experience. Sure, I’ve had things published in other outlets about it, but when was the last time I really took a minute to take stock of the last year+?
I’ve been avoiding it, partially. I’ve also been burned out — flame extinguished by the very water that was drowning me. For the moment I have managed to scrounge up a couple of battery operated candles to light the way.
I feel like there are only a few big “preemie” milestones left. He just had his adjusted first birthday last week, and he has his next big developmental screening on Tuesday. After that I suspect there will be another screening at some point, and then we’ll reach his second birthday by when he should theoretically be “caught up.” That’s the point when we stop qualifying his age with his adjusted age. So in some ways it feels like we’re on the other side, and in some ways I still feel stuck in the middle of it all.
The appointment next week is weighing on my mind, wondering if he’s doing all the things he “should” be. There’s still a heavy sense of guilt for any stumbling blocks in his path caused by prematurity, even if I intellectually know that there was literally nothing I could have done to prevent it.
The moments of fear and sadness still latch onto me at unexpected times. The day-to-day is fine, but those moments. Oh those moments. They are vicious and sneaky. I look at pictures of his early days all the time with detachment. They’re the same pictures on my wall each day and I’ve gotten used to them; but then I will come across a photo or video that I had forgotten about. What used to feel like super glue and scissors now feels like one of those sticky hand toys that kids get from a quarter machine (are they still a quarter?). It’s a tacky pull at my gut, my heart, and the backs of my eyes.
Longing. A deep tug. Some days I know better than to read essays about premature babies. I know that I will not only relate, but relate too much. Other days I feel drawn to them, pressing on that sore tooth just to see if it still hurts, until I realize that they make me want to crack open.
Rowan is fine, in the long run. I am fine, in the long run. But there is still a tiny past version of myself living in my brain that is not convinced. She’s sick and scared, but mostly hides unnoticed, until something jars her into consciousness and she takes the wheel and commands my ship.
Oh but look. I’ve fallen into confusing and extended metaphors again, because straight-up words never seem to get to the center of this tootsie roll pop of emotions. Let’s see if I can bite into it.
Basically, having a preemie is hard in ways I never expected. 14 months later and it still reverberates, though the shock waves are getting less intense. It feels like there is still some sort of direct connection between me now and me then. It’s a fuzzy connection, and it fades in and out, but it never cuts out completely.
Oh for the love of… metaphors. More and more metaphors. Analogies? I honestly don’t know the difference sometimes.
Here’s a then and now photo instead.
Rowan soon after he was born. Rowan one year ago today. And two pictures of Rowan with the good hair.