At just under four months old, (about three weeks corrected), Lucy finally came home. There was no ceremony about it, despite the fact that it marked what we all saw at the time as the end of a long and twisting road. The truth was, though the most turbulent and distressing few months of our lives had passed, it was only the beginning of the journey.
Because life is a string of thousands of moments strung precariously together, the moment Lucy came home was not that different to any other. We were exhausted, terrified at the thought of being without hospital support, and of course, we were eager to bring Lucy home to the house we had bought with her in mind the night before it had all begun at that fateful scan. There were dozens upon dozens of appointments to keep in those first few months, milestones to track, food diaries to keep, and life flew by without my permission. Only now am I beginning to grab hold of those moments instead of letting them pass me by in a flurry of worried thoughts, planned futures and daily routines.
One day last week I asked her paediatrician about her lungs, and his response changed my perspective and completed altered my outlook.
“Kate, she’s not a preemie anymore. She’s just a kid.”
Just a kid.
Those three words would have been so meaningless three years ago. She was a fighter, she was sick, she was surviving against the odds – anything but just a kid. I was conditioned into believing that she would always be a preemie, because it’s all she had ever known. It was 100% of my experience with her, and for quite some time that underlying philosophy changed our little world.
I started this diary when my instincts, that voice in my head that had both guided and deserted me in equal proportion all those years ago, returned to me on Lucy’s third birthday. Those years without instinct were lived by rote to some extent; going through the motions, getting things done. But not living every second, not sucking the marrow out of life – maybe not even fully appreciating the miracle of my two healthy and incredible children. So I picked up the journal I had kept three years before and combined it with the thoughts I have to this day.
What had my instincts said to me on her third birthday? Good things are coming. It was clear and unqualified. It was an instinct buried so deeply I never had the ability to write it off. When I hear it, it’s steadfast and certain and never wavers, and it allows me to jump in to whatever needs to be done. Perhaps that’s why I only hear it when I really need to.
I had heard people say it to me before but never really believed it. If nothing else, my instincts have finally allowed me to hear that Lucy’s not a preemie anymore. She’s just a kid full of promise and potential like every other kid.
Like every other kid.
I started this diary because the voice – my instincts – told me good things were coming. Finishing it has made me realise good things are already happening. I can’t change what was, but I have an opportunity that few others do. Now that the dust has settled, I can see every moment for what it is, because I know how easy it can be to lose everything in an instant.
Good things are happening in every moment I watch my children grow, in every tear, every warm cuddle, every tantrum, and every time they do something new and I bite my lip to stop from helping them. Three years of perspective allows me to see that now. Away from the rollercoaster, the two steps forward and one step backward, the beeps, the lights, the constant trauma and exquisite joys – now I understand that was just a rung on the ladder. Finally I am able to peak around the corner and allow myself to wonder what is coming next. And whether its ups or downs or another rollercoaster I can, and will, embrace it.