NICU has changed me.
Tonight I was mindfully going through our bedtime routine, listening and enthusiastically singing along to Spotify Acoustic covers, as I changed Dahli into her Pyjamas. India was changed and happily wriggling on her lambswool mat and Dahli was on the change table, her brilliant-blue eyes grinning happily into mine as I sang and dressed her. Soon the song pace slowed and the next artist began to play the familiar tune, Can’t Help Falling in Love.
While we were in NICU, I would hold and sing to my babies for hours, and this was one of the few songs that for some reason, always came out. As it began to play tonight, suddenly Dahli was no longer a 5.2kg happy, chubby baby. She became the tiny, frail, squeaky baby in her humicrib back in NICU. Her body fitted with cannulas on three limbs and a monitor on the fourth, as I changed her micro nappy over her sore, swollen abdomen. She was sick and I was scared. Along with this vivid flashback, inevitably came a wave of emotion that rather quickly, brought me back to present. There she was again. My chubby, little warrior. My baby girl who in the first few weeks of her life, exhibited more strength and determination than I think I ever will in my lifetime. I took a deep breath, wiped my tears and asked myself, How did I get so lucky? What did I do to deserve such an angel, and not just one, but two.
These moments are common. A simple trigger like a song, a loud beep (screaming monitors), a picture, a smell; I become totally overwhelmed as it takes me straight back to NICU. Not just in the day, but often in my dreams (hello dream jaw clenching again. I told my dentist I was over that habit!). These moments, although insanely emotional, always end with an astounding sense of pride and gratitude for what we have. I regularly remember that some parents aren’t so lucky. Some babies continue their fight for much, much longer than our precious girls and other warriors don’t win their fight; they grow their angel wings.
I know I will never forget how fortunate we are. Not a day goes by where I don’t remember how fragile life can be. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the families currently in NICU with their bubs too eager to meet the world, battling to stay positive and sane; to hold their world together. Not a day goes by where I don’t remember the nurses and doctors who cared for my babies at a time when I couldn’t. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on the fact that our babies were saved. Not a day goes by where I don’t think, our babies are so special and so absolutely amazing.
I hold my girls just that little bit tighter every day. I kiss them maybe a little too obsessively. I constantly remind them how wonderful they are. I play, play, play until I have nothing left give, on repeat, all day long. I stare at my babies as they sleep with a deep, overwhelming sense of pride. I sneak back into their room a few more times at night whilst my husband is nagging me to get to bed (daddy’s shift). I scroll through their pictures while I lay in bed, too excited to sleep because I have two strong, gorgeous, lovable twins.
Maybe as a parent without the experience of NICU, I still would be doing the exact same thing. But as a NICU mum, there are always underlying thought processes that help you see the blessing of life a little clearer. The simple things become so much more because you are so, acutely aware that in a moment, life can change; life is so fragile; nothing is ever permanent.
In NICU the mantra was always, ‘One day at a time’. Today that continues to be a useful mantra, although it’s more ‘one moment at a time’ as the life of twins gets busier and busier! Of course there are definitely moments of complete frustration and exhaustion, but then I promptly remember how lucky I am to be a mum and just how blessed we are to have two bundles of complete joy.
NICU has changed me, but I believe it to be for the better. I am not sure if the flashbacks will ever cease or if my girls are completely through the woods, but NICU has taught me how important it is to live life in the moment and to celebrate every little success. And while in NICU, if my girls have taught me one thing, it is what it means to be brave and strong. As the saying goes, ‘you never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have’. I know that if I can handle NICU, I can take on anything- just like my determined, ambitious warrior princesses.
The future is bright and beautiful my precious, baby girls!