Obviously we've had a lot of love sent our way since my water broke exactly six months ago and everything that has happened with Teddy since. I'm talking, a LOT of love. From nurses who took care of me all the way to friend's parents that we met once at a wedding years ago. People have been very generous and very kind to us. One of my friends set up a fundraiser while I was in the hospital, people we don't even know sent us Christmas gifts and we were very well taken care of. I can't even express how loved we were during one of the hardest times of our whole lives.
Normally, I am on top of writing thank you notes for almost everything. When I was younger, my grandfather emphasized how important it was to formally say 'thank you' with a note and it's stuck with me my whole life. I LIKE writing and sending physical notes of gratitude - it's a rapidly disappearing practice and I enjoy keeping it alive.
There's something about all of this, though, something that's kept me from writing, from thanking. Dustin has been on my back about writing the notes and has even offered to write them himself, but I feel like they need to come from me. I think about it everyday, the weight of the thanks that I owe heavy on my conscience. Why have I not been able to do it? Why do I keep putting it off? What gives?
I actually sat down yesterday, card on lap and pen in hand, with the intention of writing my thank you notes. The first one was to my nurse Janet, one of the sweetest ladies I encountered while on hospital bed rest. She went out of her way to set up a mini-tree, decorate it, stuff a stocking and wrap little presents from Santa to my dear Roman. She set it up right outside my hospital room door for my guy to discover on Christmas morning because we told him that Santa would find him no matter where we were. How do you thank someone for making Christmas special for your two year old when you, his mother, are to stay in bed, in the hospital, away from Home? How do you thank the generous people that donated money to your family so that being in the hospital saving your second child doesn't put your first child in debt? How do you thank the friend that handmade the baby quilt for your premature son? The quilt that used to cover his Isolette while he was on a respirator, literally fighting for his life? My poor boy who was hooked up to IVs and breathing tubes, was poked and prodded daily, and that blanket with the giant smiling bear on it helped me find him as soon as I set foot into the NICU. How do you thank someone for helping you find your baby each day?
It's hard for me to go down the list I've kept and and look at the people who've done nice things for us. It's hard to go back to that place and time in our journey, to put myself back in that NICU, that hospital bed, that first car ride to the ER when my water broke at 22 weeks. The letters of gratitude are very much owed, but the weight of going back to those days has been too much for me. Too heavy for me to manage as I try and navigate the waters of normalcy with my two healthy, amazing boys.
And, not only is it hard for me to go back, but it doesn't feel like enough. 'Thank You' doesn't begin to cover what I want to say to all these people. It sounds so insignificant, so small, so... insufficient. How could I ever express what I felt and how I feel now that Teddy is doing so well, with just those two tiny words? How do you thank someone for their kindness, for grabbing your hand and keeping you and your little family afloat and your heads above life's tumultuous water when the rain keeps pouring? Even the smallest gestures, a set of pajamas for me, a book for Roman, a cute outfit for Teddy, all of these things brought us hope and kept us going. How is it possible that blue ink and a paper notecard could possibly express how much that meant to us? How much all of it meant?
Slowly. Slowly I'm dealing with it. It was hard going from water breaking early to waiting it out to bed rest to feeling so much hope when I made it to 34 weeks to 'your baby is going to die' to maybe it will be okay to 'congratulations, take him home now' to being thrust back in to everyday life with a two and a half year old and a newborn that I am constantly worried about.
Maybe it means that I'm weak that I'm still trying to process it all six months later. Everyone swears that I'm so strong and so courageous, but really I'm just a girl who finds her breath taken away each day by the memories of what she just went through. I get overjoyed when I pause and realize that I can sit on my couch (sit, not just lay!) and then get up and cook whatever I want in the kitchen. I can drive a car and sleep in my own bed and go to the grocery store. At the same time, my stomach feels like it's being ripped out of my butt when it hits me that this little boy who smiles at me all day long used to have a breathing tube down his tiny throat. That they had to sedate him and poke needles into his veins and he was supposed to die. My boy, the baby that I nurse and kiss and cuddle... They told us he was going to die. I would never have seen his smile, smelled his milky-cheese hands or cuddled him in my bed. The thought of that makes me sick, makes me cry big fat crocodile tears and makes me want to curl into a ball for a year. It's something that is imprinted on your heart and never really goes away, I'm guessing.
In the mean time, I'm just taking it day by day and soaking in each and everyone of these juicy, delicious Teddy smiles. The thank you notes will be sent out, slowly but surely and life, the life we only dreamed would be possible, will go on.