Predictably, we get asked a lot: “how are you doing?” My answer is usually, “we’re okay.” And it’s true. We’re okay. Not great – this isn’t an ideal situation, no matter how you spin it. But I’m acutely aware of how much worse it could be. And that fearful day I was in labor by myself, I definitely pictured all the worst case scenarios. I was mentally prepared to say goodbye.
But as it turns out, Emmett is a NICU rock star. The doctors and nurses all say so. All of his “setbacks” so far have been minor, and par for the course for a baby born before he even reached the third trimester. So while I can’t help but hold my breath with every desat and feel like my heart stops with every brady, it’s completely unreasonable to expect a micro-preemie to regulate his oxygen levels or heart rate on his own. The doctors have every expectation he’ll grow out of this as he gets bigger and stronger, and by the time his original due date rolls around, he should be a fairly normal infant, just three months behind what his actual age says. Most preemies go by two ages, actual and adjusted, until they’re about two years old, by which point they usually “catch up” to their actual age.
That said, I’m aware that things can change on a dime. As I’ve mentioned multiple times, the NICU mantra is two steps forward, one step back. So far we’re more like three or four steps forward for every step back, but I know that may not always be the case. There may even be days where we are taking more steps back than forward and so I’m trying to temper my optimism with a good deal of caution. People keep telling us how strong we are, but I can’t take credit for that — it’s only because Emmett is so strong. If there comes a day where we take some major steps back, I might not be okay. But until then, I keep repeating: as long as he’s okay, I’m okay.
We can handle anything as long as he’s okay.