It's a long, hard ride filled with ups and down... but there are gifts to having a preemie. Yes, joy can and does come out of sorrow and suffering.
1. The gift of FEAR- It's terrifiying walking into an ICU, even moreso when it is your tiny, tiny child hooked up to all the tubes and monitors. Fear can keep us from bonding to our babies... but it is fear that brings us back to the hospital, day after day, to fight for and with our child. Because if we don't, who will?
And there is redemption in fear, in suffering.
2. The gift of WONDER- How can something so perfectly formed still have such an immature system? And how can someone with such an immature system survive all the medical interventions that would have grown men flat on their back, begging for mercy? And how can you love someone you just met, who shouldn't even be here for weeks or months?
3. The gift of AWE- I remember standing before Georgie, in awe of this tiny baby who was so determined to be here, be strong, and live.
4. The gift of LOVE- Your love just grows with every baby and it's amazing how much you can love someone so tiny and fraile yet so so strong.
5. The gift of FRIENDS- Real friends will bring you meals, pray with you, pray for you, cry with you and tell you your baby is the prettiest baby ever, even if they really think he looks like a hairy monkey. They bring you pumping supplies, call you long distance and ask, "How are you? And don't tell me FINE unless you really are FINE." And the NICU parent friends you make will be with you for the ride, and after, understanding what you mean when you talk about preemie issues, the NICU and everything in between.
6. The gift of HUMILITY- You thought you knew what to expect. You thought you knew how to parent. You do- but a preemie kid is a whole nuther ball o'wax. You realize you don't know much at all and need the guidence of others- and that's good.