Two years ago today. I am normal! I’ve been released to general population!
Yeah. We saw how well that went. Two loops later around the sun on this roller coaster and I’ve realized I am normal.
Normal is needles – injections, blood tests, CBCs, glucose levels, HCG, infections.
Normal is hating every second of your pregnancy. Because when you’re not doubled over with pain and nausea, you’re running to the bathroom to debate whether the amount of blood warrants another trip to the emergency room. (It does.)
Normal is being wracked with debilitating guilt over your inability to protect your children. It is trying to reconcile the rationale mind with the logical (the latter of which has been mortally wounded by pregnancy hormones) as you attempt to comprehend that the loss of a child in utero has saved the lives of your twins. It is the heart-wrenching tears that result from being okay with that.
Normal is the desperate desire not to go into labor while you’re holed up in the Labor & Delivery unit. It’s knowing all the nurses schedules by heart – “Alexandra, you’re off Thursday, right? Ok, but Staci and I don’t see eye to eye on the meds schedule. Can you see if she can switch with Rose?” It’s begging your doctors not to take away your bathroom privileges, while bargaining that you’ll suffer any perceived humiliation if only they make your children healthy.
Normal is medical appointments involving copious use of the words “viability” and “mortality.” It is realizing your new “What to Expect When You’re Expecting – The Premature Baby” book includes a chapter on baptisms and burials and an appendix for grief counselors.
Normal is wires. So many wires. Monitors with angry beeps and blinks. It is Costco-size bulk quantities of hand sanitizer. It is self-doubt. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jealousy. Normal is demanding “Why.”
Normal is tiny. Normal is the NICU. It is an emotionally draining medical diagnosis of “wait and see.” (I hate that phrase.) It is learning a new language of medical terminology, slang and statistics. It is knowing you have not one, but two “wimpy white boys.”
Normal is the joy of bringing your bundle home. It is the panic at 3 a.m. because your son has slept for four hours – is he still breathing?! It is rushing to the emergency room on a Friday night only to be told your son (with Chronic Lung Disease) has the sniffles.
Normal is realizing that parenthood is simply a perpetual state of panic.
(And it is normal that your children will later blame you for all their woes because you blogged their entire lives from the very beginning.) It is their growing goofy grins reminding us every day that without the muppets, tomorrow might not be worth the wait and the struggles of yesterdays wouldn’t be worth remembering.
I’m not trying to be too overly dramatic here. This is the life that becomes normal when you pledge the fraternity of premature infants. This becomes your new normal.
Because normal is…not.