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A New Normal

The last nine months have rocked us emotionally more than any other time in my life. The ride of peaks and valleys, smiles and tears, happiness and anxiety has taken a toll still unknown to me. From the moment we knew of the pregnancy, no single emotion could take hold long enough for me to recognize what I was feeling. Health scares for baby–spina bifida, heart defects, contracted joints, breech position, decreased fetal movement–combined with my septated uterus, engaged my extreme fears and evoked a reliance and stamina I did not know I possessed. Appointments heaped upon one another, and delivering Evelyn early did not alleviate that. Even having her home does not calm the nerves or soothe my worries the way I desire.

A sense of peace that was previously allusive has poked its tantalizing sparkle through the darkness. We can now see what needs to be attended to. We can now help her with physical therapy. We can now nourish her to help her grow and thrive. We can now stimulate her senses: sing to her, cuddle her, tell her all about her new life. We can now forget the wild speculation and pessimistic doctors. Most importantly, we can now look ahead.

Caring for Evelyn is not simple. As a preemie, we scored”bonus” newborn time until she is big enough to allow to sleep longer than four hours. Starting at barely over 3 lbs, 10 lbs (deemed by the pediatrician to be the magic weight) waves to us from the distant future. We dream of the day we can move up from our night naps of two to three hours to a stretch that can once again be considered “sleep.” Beyond the nighttime feedings, endless pumping to get her milk, and frequent soothing of her cries, we are taxed with weekly casting to fix her bent feet, therapy stretches with each diaper change, frequent in-home physical and occupational therapy sessions, and for a while (which has luckily ended now) continual weight checks. The responsibility is enormous as I cannot stand to see her regress. In the first two weeks alone, we have had five doctors’ appointments and a consultation for in-home services.

Despite the struggle, exhaustion, and worries, promise shines its previously shunned face. During an assessment today, the physical therapist commented, “this is nothing we can’t fix” several times. Her optimism, toxic to the previous doctors’ pessimism, slowly exterminates any fears planted in our thoughts that Evelyn would have severe, irreversible disabilities.

By the end of this week, she will add three more appointments to the never ending count of professionals working to help this little angel. The work up front to fix the damage that was done is overwhelming, yet sprinkled with hope. Despite all the strife getting her settled, and the time spent on tending to her extenuating needs, she is home. She is with her family where she belongs. 

The last nine months allowed for some of the lowest moments my emotions have ever dared to go, and have ended in a beautiful, strong baby. We fought for her. She fought for us. She is my tiny hero.

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