It’s that time of year…

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It’s that time of year, a time to thank God for another year, to celebrate BJ’s birthday and celebrate how far he’s come. I’ve been trying for the past couple of weeks to figure out why I’ve been feeling so…off. Not sad not happy just a little off kilter. And yesterday I figured it out, BJ’s birthday will be here in less than a month. Each year little by little it gets better… but I’ve yet to make it through a birthday without tears. Of course I know that it’s a happy occasion, of course I know that I should be cheering instead of crying but my heart doesn’t quite speak the same language that my mind does. The past two birthdays have found me sitting in my closet at some point during the day of or the night before going through my NICU bag and reliving the days when I spoke about BJ’s future using the words “if” and “hopefully.” I write BJ’s birthday letter every year and put it in his book of letters and I can’t help myself but sit in the closet for an hour reading the daily letters I wrote BJ while he was in the NICU starting at the first letter that began with “My dearest BJ, this is mommy,” and the last NICU letter that told him that he was finally coming home.

Am I putting myself through some form of self-torture? No. As a matter of fact I feel like it’s quite the opposite. This is a part of MY healing. It’s a part of my personal birthday celebration to him. Because after the tears, the journaling, the folding of the outfits that are so teeny tiny and the pictures of my precious son so sick and frail I’m able to put away those mementoes, wipe my face and go give my little boy a hug. It’s a hug that most parents will never give their children because it’s a hug of sincere joy and gratitude it’s a hug that realizes what almost wasn’t.

You see, the phrase “you never miss a good thing unless it’s gone” should coincide with “you never appreciate what you have until you’ve come close to losing it.” While my journal was something that I used as an outlet for the stress I was going through, it was also a way for me to talk to BJ and tell him how I was feeling. Some of my letters begin telling him about his day and end in an almost prayer/plea for him to please make it home to me.

I’m not sure how long I’ll meet his birthdays with such mixed feelings. I’m not sure how long it will take me to fully heal from what we went through. I was talking to my husband two days ago and he said he heard a church song by Tamela Mann called “Take me to the King” while driving and had to pull over to the side of the road. He said he didn’t know where it came from but all he could do was think about BJ, cry and thank God.  We are a long way away from the NICU… a lot of time has passed since those days where I barely ate or slept. The days where my husband and I would crawl into bed at night, hold each other and cry. We’ve come so very far and are so very blessed… we are blessed to see a living breathing miracle every day and he continues to be a constant ray of sunshine in our lives.

But I still allow myself that day… to remember… to be grateful.

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6 Replies to “It’s that time of year…”

  1. I have a great appreciation for the mixture of emotions your son’s birthday holds for you as my little ones were preemies too and the time between their birth and when we knew they would make it home was way too long. I think your closet time, your time to sift through the NICU stuff, both the items in the bag and the feelings in your heart, is a way of healing. It is healthy. I often wonder if I will ever truly heal or “get over” or “put behind” me the experience of being a NICU parent but then I also wonder if I really want to. It has shaped who I am and is a huge part of my life even now – seven years out.

    Happy birthday to your sweet boy. And take the time to give yourself a hug – you are an awesome momma.

    1. Thank you so much. You know? I’m beginning to feel much the same way you do. I feel like our rocky start helped shape me into the mother that I became and I’d never want to change that. Taking time out every year to walk back down that road is healing and a reminder that the terrible twos and the tantrums were something I prayed to experience three years ago.
      Thank you so much for the encouraging words. It’s always nice to hear from someone who had been there themselves.

  2. I’m not sure that anyone who has been forced to face the mortality of their own child ever truly gets over it, regardless of how old (or young) the child is when it happens. It rips away that innocent sense of order that most of us have, that says parents die before children, old before young.

    Although most people realise intellectually that children can and do die before their parents, we now know it on a much more visceral level. We face the fact that anything could happen to them at any time, and leave us without that piece of our soul which now runs around outside our bodies.

    I don’t think that knowledge will ever go away. But like you, I also don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing.

    Happy birthday little BJ!

  3. Hey Chica,

    Your blogs have me in tears each time I read them. This one especially so as I get ready to celebrate my little ones 1st birthday. Although
    I don’t have the NICU experience, I often times reflect on my denial of becoming a mom when I found out I was preggers. It took some time, but I realized that this would be the opportunity of a lifetime and a tremendous GIFT from God. I became extremely grateful knowing that there were women who wanted to be in my position and couldn’t. Women, like yourself who were praying fervently for their little ones to make it through their rough start in life and strength to be there for them. So kudos to you for strength and endurance. May you sunshine continue giving off bright rays light as he embarks on another year. Happy BDay Brayden!!!

    1. Thank you!! And our acceptance of being pregnant was similar. BJ wasn’t planned and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted children… I went from a not very eager pregnancy to bargaining with God to give me a shot at being BJs mom. Children are definitely blessings from God. Our little guys have made us better people just by existing. Let me know when you finish planning. We’d love to come! Hugs!!

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