Seven years ago today, October 19th 2004, we brought our preemie twinfants home. Today I've found myself transported back to that very day. It's the grayness and near constant rain that keep tugging my memories back to that surreal experience.It was a day just like this, after all. I know I've written about this before, but hey, it's where my mind has drifted to today.
Can anything really prepare you for bringing your first kiddo home for that first time? Think about it. You prepare for 40 weeks (or 34, as it were) for this little person who is gestating inside you. For the duration, it's been there and you, the expectant mom, have tried your darnedest to do everything exactly right.
Eating healthy and ditching the caffeine habit? Check.
Getting lots of rest? Check.
Eating enough for 2 (or 3)? With relish, check.
Baby items purchased and a place for the wee one readied? Check and check.
And then the big day comes. The water breaks. The pain starts. There's some pushing. Voila! You've got a brand spankin' new human being to call your very own. Yes I know I've over simplified the process, but those are the main points, right?
I remember looking at the girls after I woke up in the recovery, blearily pushing through the drugged stupor of an emergency c-section. "You have 2 healthy little girls," I was told and shown several pictures. I was stunned. Stupefied, really.
Let me be clear, I knew they were coming. I did. I understood the process of it.
But somehow hefting around that 12 pound belly was quite different from seeing them outside of it. As I stared at the pictures, I felt an odd disconnect. My husband visually introduced me to each girl, one at a time. He'd already spent time with each of them while I was still knocked out. I had no clue who was who. Despite having carried them for 34 weeks and kept them to myself, I had no idea who I was looking at. No clue.
Hello cutie. Who are you?
Getting to hold them for the first time was a mind bending experience for me too. Why didn't the What To Expect books prepare me for this moment, I wondered. It was beautiful, make no mistake. But daunting.
This little girl is mine? How is that possible? That one too? My, my.
It seemed we were surrounded by other parents who all were completely confident and comfortable with their new offspring; I felt like Dan and I were wearing giant "Newbie Parent" hats. Flash! Flash! Flash! We don't know what we're doing!
And then they sent us home. With the babies. Alone.
Alone? Shouldn't one of you fine nurses or doctors come with us? Clearly we don't know what's going on here. We only just met these two after all. Are you sure sending them home with us is the very best idea?
With the finality of the doors whooshing closed on our behinds, we headed home. I remember sitting them on the couch and staring at them. I remember whispered conversations that went a lot like this: "What should we do with them? Should we leave them here or should we move them? Are they supposed to do something? Do you think they're bored? They're not LEARNING anything right now! Aren't we supposed to teach them something?"
All of it whispered in hushed tones lest the newborn twinfants overhear and take offense.
Those first days are shadowed by a haze of sleepless wonder. A million and 4 "Firsts" came winging at us one after another. In rapid succession. All of the "How Are We Gonna...?" questions were answered and we adjusted quickly.
Life changed completely. Up-ended. New. Before and after; clear cut lines that divided us from our pre-parent selves.
And now they've turned 7. It's funny the amount of confidence you gain after you've Been There, Done That time and time again. We no longer wonder what we'll do with them, no longer worry about if they're bored, learning, or in need of something. The rhythm of family life is a fairly smooth path at the moment, barring the occasional bumps and rocks in the way.
We've traded our "Newbie Parent' hats for "Yeah, We Got This" headgear. And it feels good. Looking back at that day 7 years ago when we started this journey I can see how far we've come; sense the many changes that have taken place already, and still have enough sense to wonder about the changes yet to come.
It's been a pretty amazing journey, after all.