16 June 2013 – Dante’s 1st Birthday
It’s been an amazing year I have to say, with all the good far outweighing the “bad” start we had. They say premmies take approximately 2 years to catch up but my little guy seems to be determined to prove them wrong. We were lagging behind a little in size, compared to all his younger friends (who are older gestationally – just to confuse you) he’s still a little on the small side, but after a rough start to the colder months he’s on a mission to really grow and I have to say, in the past 2-3 weeks alone I feel like I’m looking at a much beefier baby who hardly bears a resemblance to the little cricket I delivered 12 months ago. In fact for the first time since he was born I can honestly say right now, Dante is starting to LOOK his age.
Developmentally these past few weeks he has completely transformed. It’s truly amazing to watch. All of a sudden he’s chasing us around the house, asking our dog to play with him and this week he woke up one morning after months of army crawling and decided he’s going to crawl on all fours like a big kid, then a couple of days later stood up all on his own.
It’s like he knew his big day was approaching and decided it was time to pack on the pounds and step it up a notch. Perhaps he’s embarrassed that he’s been wearing the same jeans since November and they’re sized 3-6 months!
When Dante was in the hospital I kept a journal. Every day at the top of the page I’d write “Day Number ##” then launch into all the things the doctor had said, how much weight he’d put on, what he was eating, and if it was one of those days where not much happened at all I’d just pour my heart out into this book about how much I loved him and tell him about his personality that was shining through, or I’d simply use the journal to mope about how miserable I was and how long and lonely and never ending those days in the hospital were as I sat by his isolete and prayed for him to come home.
One day when he’s old enough I’ll give him the journal and he can see the day by day transformation he undertook and also have a bit of insight into just how much I love him. I’m thinking of giving it to him when he hits his teens and has a rebellious stint, maybe use it as a guilt tool J
I haven’t written in that journal since the day he came home so thought today might be a good opportunity to add an entry, and share it with all of you.
Day 365 – 16 June 2013
I always thought the day Dante turned 1 would be a momentous and happy occasion. Not for the reasons a 1 year olds birthday is usually all these things, I thought that when that day came he’d stop being a premmie and just be a one year old.
Leading up to today I have realised that’s not how it works. I think it’s time for me to accept that I’ll always get emotional talking about the day he arrived and I’ll never look at him and not first see his frail little body in a plastic box covered in tubes. And that’s ok. Because that’s who he is, and that’s what makes him amazing.
So here we are, at day 365 and I find myself reliving that day where I thought I’d lost him, and I thought perhaps I’d be leaving this world also. It was the day when I woke up in the morning and the biggest decision I had to make was whether to have McDonalds for lunch (I may have gorged a little whilst pregnant!), and I went to bed at night wondering if I’d wake up in the morning and my son would still be alive. I think I’ll always look back on that day and feel an incredible sadness. It’s for the part of the pregnancy that I was robbed of, for the fear I had to endure and for what my poor husband must have been going through – wondering if he was going to be left alone in this world without either of us.
But most of all I feel an unbearable guilt, that my sons start to life was so very hard and in turn perhaps other parts of his life are going to be even harder, and that that it is entirely my fault. I’m not saying I gave myself pre-eclampsia, which is what brought on my labour, I’m just saying that I don’t 100% believe the medical reason for my pre term labour. I believe I may have inadvertently willed him out at 29 weeks. Because if babies can hear what is going on in the outside world & feel what their mum is feeling when they’re in the womb then I know what Dante was thinking while he was in there. “I have to get out”.
I didn’t exactly make him feel welcome, in fact I quite often referred to him as ‘treacherous’. Don’t judge me, you would too if you spent 6 months heaving over a toilet bowl or randomly passing out at inopportune times. The life growing inside me was taking all my strength and my positivity and draining me daily, so I found it hard to see the good in any of it. I didn’t really keep that to myself either, I think many people were horrified by my response when they’d ask me how I was enjoying pregnancy and I’d tell them how awful I felt. As a pregnant woman you’re expected to glow and be bright and cheery, I couldn’t find any of that no matter how hard I tried. I can honestly say that in those 6 and a half months I felt the worst I had in my entire life.
I also did very little resting, (imagine a 6 month pregnant woman photographing a 12 hour 250 guest Italian wedding – yep, the week before I had him!) and I distinctly recall telling the obstetrician while I was in labour that the labour may have been brought on because I didn’t adhere to all the pregnancy rules. She thought I was delirious, but it’s not that I just occasionally ate the forbidden deli meats that pregnant women are denied, in those 6 months I almost became an ambassador for ham just to prove a point!
So you can see, Dante didn’t really feel as though my womb was a great place to hang out for another 3 months, and I don’t blame the guy to be honest.
People reading this are going to say one of two things –
- It’s not your fault, you musn’t feel guilty blah blah blah.
To that I say, it’s my right as a mother to feel guilty about EVERYTHING when it comes to my son and it’s my right as a premmie mum to feel guilty forever about the fact that because of my body he spent 61 days in a hospital covered in tubes.
- How could you have been so negative about being pregnant, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s all worth it, yada yada yada.
To them I say – yes, it’s all worth it. NOW. Take me back there and I dare say that all my wisdom will go out the window and I’ll be the same miserable whining sad sack that I was back then and maybe the next kid will try and make the great escape too and for the same reasons.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because today, he is 1. Today I look back on the past year and know that even if it was my fault, even if I didn’t make him feel welcome, I have spent every minute of the past 365 days making up for it and will continue to do so.
I’m the one he calls for first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night. I’m the one he launches at with a “rah! “ and a kiss that’s half mixed with a bite and filled with saliva and sometimes snot. I’m the one who he stops to smile at whenever he hears me singing. I take him swimming, to his Italian classes, to his premmie development group, I change his filthy nappies and make sure he’s always got a full tummy…and some nights I sit up all night with him just because he feels a little lonely down the other end of the house.
I’m the one who spent every waking moment next to him while he lived in the hospital – willing him home.
And he knows this.
He may have felt like I didn’t want him while I was pregnant and that he had to escape, but I think now he’s worked out that I just wanted him out here with me
Happy 1st Birthday to Dante – my Pequeno, my little booboo, my darling little man who undoubtedly has the greatest head of hair there ever was and more nicknames than I have space to write. You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met and you achieved more before you weighed 2 kilos, than I could ever hope to. With you in it, the world is a better place.
Thank you for making me a better person, and for also hanging out with me at 2am when I have my occasional bouts of insomnia.
You are no longer the tiny cricket you once were. Like Pinocchio I can now say, you’re a real boy
If I had nothing on this earth but you and your Daddy, that’d be more than enough