There isn’t a more exciting and yet terrifying day for a mother of preemies than the day you finally get to take your babies home! Trembling, I promised my girls on those two fateful days—yes, I made separate promises to each girl—that I would be the mother she needed me to be (Good thing too since they have completely different personalities!). I still remember those moments, lived not once but twice.
Born at 32 weeks, 6 days, Baby A was a quick study. Her breathing tube was quickly turned into a cannula, and soon after she was breathing on her own. The breathing, sucking, and swallowing took a little longer, but she moved along nicely. The perfect preemie, she never provided much of a concern; she made steady progress with an easy disposition. Six weeks after birth, she reached the mandatory 5 lbs. and was able to go home.
It was an exciting day because although she was still too small to fit in preemie clothes, she looked like a baby. I knew with all certainty that I could and would take excellent care of her. I knew I could nurse her, literally and figuratively, into a healthy infant!
Baby B was another matter all together! My little Ruby in Her Own Time had forced labor on that June afternoon because she needed to come out. The doctors believe if she had not forced me into early labor, she would have died in the womb. She was born with pneumonia, which I would never have believed was possible to develop in utero, and a large PDA, patent ductus arteriosus, in her heart. I would ask the doctors, like any mother would, “How is she doing?” And, I would hear the much hated words, “Her long-term prognosis is good.” Then I would persist, “Yes, but what about now?” And, the doctor would only repeat himself. I could hardly breathe the first week of her life, praying, hoping, wishing, willing her to make it—not that she would have listened then, or now for that matter. She has always known what she needs better than anyone else. Eight weeks after her birth, she reached the magical 5 lbs. milestone, and we were able to take her home.
I felt no confidence when I took Baby B home. The excitement was tempered by the terror of failing her. She looked like she should still be in the womb! She was also so weak that she didn’t cry even when she was hungry or wet. Despite my fear, I kept my promise to her—the one I made the day of her birth. I took care of her; I fought for her, and loved her more than I have ever loved. I showed my little girl where she got her stubbornness from by brooking no other option than success for my lovely girl.
Quickly, my fragile little preemies became healthy babies! They were beautiful little princesses adored by mommy and daddy, our wonderful gift from God. The joy grew, the terror abated, but one thing never changed—every day I ask myself if I had been true to my word. Had I been the best mother I could possibly be? My girls are so very different that some days I feel I need to divide myself into completely different mothers. There is always room for improvement, but I have rarely felt I have fallen short. And, even when I feel or know I have made a mistake, my promise has remained true. I have been the best mother I could be at that moment, failures and all, because I love my girls and will never stop trying to be the very best mother I can be, the mother that they deserve.