Sunday, January 19, 2014

Confessions of a Preemie Mom: Normal Is Over-rated and Probably Doesn't Exist

CONFESSION:  Don't expect "NORMAL".  It might not exist.

Yesterday was my youngest's one month birthday and in the last two months all of my children have had birthdays; while fairly "normal" occurrence in the scheme of the world is pretty awesome and a milestone marker in my current world.

Normal is a term that lacks value and relevance in my daily life these days... in fact, it's a rapid road directly hurt feelings and unnecessarily frustrating experiences.  

Happy One Month Birthday N! (Credit: Teia Collier)

As I listened to and simultaneously tried to ignore the annoyingly distracting, almost musical beeping of the monitor above his incubator, taking mental snapshots while trying not be entirely nosy as other parents spent precious time with their little ones, a sparkling thought dawned on me -- my normal every-day is not the same as someone else's and though we have and are having common experiences -- mine is unique.

Most likely, the term "normal" is a misnomer.  Instead of focusing on what normal progression should be, focus on being in and living in today.

Credit: Tamar Hela

It helps me to count my blessings.

It lets me be aware of yesterday, engaged in today and excited about tomorrow.

It allows me to reach out to other parents and let other people (and their experiences) in

And it persuades me to take my pleasure in this day.

Z and S in the Dallas Snowmaggedon (credit:Teia Collier)

The striking of normal might be the tool that helps to eliminate those comparisons between experiences, those twinges of jealousy when see another mom holding her newborn baby or annoyance that creeps in when you get an email from Baby Center that congratulates you on entering your 28th week of pregnancy and you delivered weeks ago.  But it also helps me to celebrate the milestones and appreciate the rock star moments of the day like one month birthdays, realizing that "stable" is a positive term, that goodness abounds and the awesomeness of parking spaces that are not cross country from the door.

I am also starting to see that the "normal" world does not revolve around the NICU, nor in real life terms does mine, though it sure feels like it does sometimes.  The roles that I had prior to this stint of NICU stay still exist, this is just one element of my life that has altered and impacted the others.

Life continues to move forward, the world continues to spin, we still dream, we still need, want and desire things, experiences and time, but most of all, there are still adventures to be had.  There is still time to ask what do we choose to do with today?

The view of Dallas from the car asking what will I do with today. (credit: Teia Collier)

For me, that is reassuring, a little daunting and exciting.

How does the elimination of normal strike you?  Does it make sense or are you comfortable with normal?