For Better or Worse, In Sickness and Kindergarten*

J and Be-Bop August 2006

Nearly five years ago, at 9:26 pm on August 24, I gave birth to a baby boy. He was screaming before he was even completely out. Four pounds and nine ounces of premature baby. He was beautiful but as I sat in his NICU room alone, I counted the hours because I was convinced he would die at any moment, at any sound of the alarm to which he was attached. He spent over thirty hours on a ventilator.

Tomorrow, that baby boy starts kindergarten. In the morning, his father and i will stand in our driveway and watch as Be-Bop gets on a school bus and goes for his first day of school all by himself.

I’m not sad that my baby boy is growing up. My only sadness is that I seriously underestimated that little baby boy as he was fighting hard to live and let his lungs grow in that isolette. I’m sad that I didn’t have more faith that he would be okay, that a day like tomorrow would come at all.

On Wednesday, November 1, 2006, I wrote: “I can’t tell you how many people would say, ‘Oh, I know this baby or that baby who was early and they’re 5 years old and so healthy and happy now.’ I was more interested in the stories of families who were dealing with the not-so-happy endings, because those stories are equally as real, life goes on for those families as well.”

I never banked on being one of those people who would get to say that I have a nearly five-year old that’s happy and healthy now. But it’s true, I do have one. I was so convinced I would have that little life for such a tragically limited time.

The future is not guaranteed for any of us, I know. But just for right now, I am going to be thankful. I’m not just a mommy of a NICU graduate. I’m not just a mommy of a cute, smart, normal little boy. As of tomorrow, I’ll be mommy of a Kindergartener.

*In memory of Joey, a dear little boy whose mommy supported me through Be-Bop’s NICU days. Joey and his mom are close to my thoughts tonight.


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