This week I have been following a new drama.
It is a medical based drama. A baby was born at just 24 weeks (they are supposed to cook for a full 40, or as close to it as possible) and less than a pound. The doctors said the preemie wouldn’t last 48 hours. But the couple was still so positive and happy. Getting pregnant had been a struggle for them. They had tried for years to have a baby that they could take fishing and make root for the Green Bay Packers.
With the prayers of all their friends and family and Facebook friends, the baby boy made it past 48 hours. He then made it past 72 hours. They called him their little fighter, their little angel.
I couldn’t help but be envious of their positive attitude. I had to send my own son off into operating rooms three times in the past, every time I was almost hysterical and convinced I would never see him alive again. And he was six months old and a healthy weight the first time that happened.
The thing is, this wasn’t a new television show or a Hollywood movie. This was the child of my former neighbors.
Neighbors are a weird thing. We are in the city. We lived close enough that our driveways and back doors are only a few feet apart. We would help each other look for our lost dogs in the dark. We would hear each other arguing with our spouses, either outside or when the windows were open. We would reveal things to each other in passing. For example, they were the third people to find out when I was pregnant with my own son. Only because they happened to be outside that night.
Yet, when all this happened, we aren’t technically close enough to them to help in any meaningful way. All I could give them were thoughts and prayers.
That wasn’t enough. The baby passed on after 4 days.
I know from my own limited experience with a child in the hospital that their lives must have revolved around that baby and that hospital for that period of time. A hospital is not a nice place to live. Especially if you are not the one who is being treated. I have never lost a baby myself. I can’t imagine how horrible it will be for them to return home after this ordeal, empty-handed.
What I learned this week is that I am not good with birth. Or death. And that we never appreciate what we have.
I didn’t get that shining moment when you hold your baby and smile at it. I was busy puking while someone else was trying to tape a bag to his tiny nutsack so they could get a urine sample.
I live in denial about death. I try not to think about my hamster who died over ten years ago. I compartmentalized my gramma’s death. Part of my brain just thinks she is still off in the nursing home.
I think we are just programmed as humans to not be able to realize how lucky we are. It is so easy to get in an argument with my 3 year old son over eating his breakfast or sitting on the potty. I should be so happy that he is here and healthy. But, I guess, if I remembered that, I would also never discipline him and buy him Thomas toys until we are broke, bankrupt, and foreclosed on.
Life balance is hard. Maybe we should just spend a few minutes every day realizing what we really have.
This is all painful. It is not my story. That is why I haven’t included any names or dates. But a lot of my past week was thinking about this little peanut, and I felt like I had to spill it out of me.
I thought about them a lot too and in much the same way. Just this morning I was feeling frustrated and tired and I thought, “I just don’t want to have to be a mommy today!” And then it struck me what I was saying and I started crying. The truth is I am insanely grateful to have the opportunity to be someone’s mommy. I know what others would give to have what I have and I hope I can always remember what a extraordinary blessing my strong healthy children are.
Wow. That’s very powerful. And painful.