Life with a full term baby is so SO different. I am not balancing feeding schedules and apnea monitors. I do not have to lie awake at night, imagining the beeping of the alarm to signify they've stopped breathing. I've never watched Hannah struggle to catch her breath, never stood by helpless as she turned blue, never had to teach her to eat. She came out huge and round, ready to go. She came out crying, ate as soon as I was stitched up, and had these beautiful full cheeks.
And yet, she is growing up before my very eyes. Each day, she is SO much bigger than the day before. She is developing so fast - in growth and what she is able to accomplish. She knows nothing of the battle to overcome the way Warren and Dean did. She was born knowing so much, possessing so much. Oh, how I would have taken it all for granted were it not for my 2 little miracles sleeping upstairs. I wouldn't have given it a second thought - the ease at which she accomplishes all these "normal" milestones, eating and sleeping and playing exactly like she is supposed to.
Our weeks with W&D are now filled with 6 therapy appointments, progress notes, and goals to achieve. Two and a half years later, they still have to work for it. But, you know what? They will be better because of that. They will be stronger. They will understand work ethic and persistence from a young age. Life with preemies hasn't been easy, from our end or theirs. But we are all so much different, so much stronger, because of their journey. As I think back on my pregnancy with the boys, as I continue to struggle with guilt and pain at not providing more for them, I have to remind myself that God is still bigger. His plan is STILL better than mine, whether I understand that at this exact moment in time or not. It's a constant struggle for me, that letting go and trusting. Even if it's simply letting go and trusting with what has already happened.
I love Hannah immeasurably. And life with just Hannah would have been so carefree and easy. She's such a blessing, a joy, to raise. Even in the wee hours of the morning, when she smiles up at me, I'm filled with such love. But who I am, the mother I have become, is all shaped by years of trials. Of saying goodbye to Reagan, of standing by unable to do anything but pray and wait and trust with the boys, of months in the NICU. I watch Hannah as she is growing up so very fast, trying to not take a second of that time for granted, knowing that tomorrow is never promised but desperately trying to not live a life of fear. If I had never experienced difficulty, loss, sorrow, trials and struggle with our first 3 children, I would never have known what a blessing life truly is. I might begrudge those 3am wakings, the crying and fussing in the evening. But God has taught me how precious life is, how precious my children are, and how short time on earth can really be. It's a lesson I wish I didn't understand, and yet I am grateful, because it has given me a greater depth of love.