In 6 days it will be 11 years since Josie was born; 9 days after that it will 11 years since she died. 11 years she is gone from this world and I am still processing, still grieving, still trying to figure out just how to handle all of this. It's so true that you never get over it.. you get through it. Sometimes I feel like the journey through it is infinite, with more feelings and thoughts around every turn.
This year is a bit different, I haven't been consumed or hyper aware of the date or the anniversary. Maybe because 11 is the second double digit, and nothing crazy monumental happens at 11 for most people. The first half of the month was very snowy here and I worked consecutive weekends of 13+ hour shifts, twice in one weekend. I know a lot of SYS members in healthcare do that regularly but wow that's not for me on a regular basis. My house was destroyed, I went an entire day without seeing my daughter and I'm not sure the Mr. Mom gig is for my husband! He is totally capable but its just not up to my standard....hes good at laundry and cooking but I think an inch of dirt could form on the floors before he would clean them.
I noticed a few days ago I was getting super weepy and choked up regarding random things that have never really bothered me before. And then there is Fiona the Hippo....who celebrates her 1st birthday tomorrow. Over the summer I choked up a lot when her story was airing, especially the show that depicted the early days of touch and go moments, when the Children's Hospital vein team had to come in and help out because she needed and IV and they couldn't get one started. I really hope that Fiona gives hope to so many NICU families out there. Preemies are often referred to as heroes, but when I see the parents who love and support them and carry on, staying positive and barely taking a moment for themselves to breathe I know I'm witnessing true selflessness, heroism and unconditional love at its finest.
I often identify solely as a loss mom, not a NICU mom, even though that's where Josie stayed in the hospital prior to discharge. I barely remember any other babies when we entered. I know they were there, but I had tunnel vision of some sort. I wasn't aware of anyone but Josie and tried to focus on learning how to administer her formula through her tube and what to do if it came out. Now that I have met so many more NICU families and watched my close friends go through it less than a year ago, I struggle with how I could have survived a journey like that. Sometimes its almost feels like maybe I survived because I already knew the ending of Josie's story- she wouldn't live to see a birthday, or hit a milestone. I would be lucky to hold her and love her in the time that I had and then she would be gone. I think things like that and then I instantly hate myself and think myself a monster for taking comfort in the fact that she was gone so quickly and never had a chance at a normal life, or any life really. But I tell myself every day- every time I see her shadow where an older sister should be, where another stocking should hang, another pair of dance shoes, another little voice in the night, another face in the rear view mirror- she was loved and comforted her entire life, I protected her the best way I knew how, I did everything I could to keep her safe. I tell myself these things when I miss her, when I question myself, when I want to scream into the abyss that life just isn't fair.
So I'm sure I will spend the next 6 days just a bit more aware, just a bit more weepy and solemn. There are likely to be a few more moments of anger, and maybe even the urge to bake a ton of cookies so I can focus on something else. No matter how much I anticipate these dates, I'm never really prepared for the new feelings that show up unannounced. It's similar to anticipating not having a baby that will survive and grow up, yet actually living that reality for the rest of your life, knowing every year that you will remember dates that no one else does and desperately long for a life that was never lived.
So much love and many hugs to you dear friend!
Your post has me in tears, but good tears because I feel the love you have for your Josie. I share so many of those same feelings as an angel parent. I'm going to be thinking of you over the next couple of days. If you need to bake, scream, clean - DO.
Many hugs to you and bake all the cookies you need too. I have never related to being a NICU MOM either for me I think it's because he never got to leave it. Nicki
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