Recently I have been trying to do some sorting out. As happens when you have a small child, odd tiny socks and vests you never bought breed and end up EVERYWHERE. Today I found a wee bootie wedged behind the clothes horse and was momentarily caught stock still at it's size. It was so small. Yet it was easily that for a 3 month old child; needless to say it fitted mine up until around her first birthday. When I find these small items of clothing aimed at the first few months of life, I then have to further pinch myself to remember my baby was even smaller. Seriously small. At 1090g (just under 2lb 6oz), little bigger than my hands. Her eyes barely open, unable to breathe for herself and so frail. Her first picture a few hours after birth is a little shocking. I treasure it, but it is not a cute baby picture by any means. I love it because she is my baby but I can't quite imagine it on a board with other baby pictures of squashy newborns or even pictures later down the line of NICU.
When I find tiny things, I always have a pull to go back to our NICU memory box and find her first nappy, first dummy....so small, even for doll's clothing. I find it staggering to look at them and think that baby, my baby survived and thrived. That babies, some half her weight can too. I can't explain the pull to keep looking at these things, keep reminding myself. In many ways it is like poking at an open wound. God, it hurts when I think of the pain and suffering she has been through. The mental pain and suffering I and my family have been through. The scars we are left with.
I find myself afraid of forgetting, alongside paradoxically being desperate to move on. It has defined things for so long and is really my only experience of motherhood. For so long I wished we could have been one of the average statistics, the "normal", the tears-free, the one where you knew your baby would be there the next morning. Now two years down the line, we are in a little limbo. In part, it is oceans away. In part it is still with us every day in form of some problems or delays or memories. In a strange and not-entirely welcome way it has become my normal, which is what I think I am afraid of letting go of. Instead of doing all the things I expected to do as a mother, I did lots of hospital based things and seeked out people in similar situations for vital support. Now we are in a position to mix and match effectively, I find I often flounder. It feels disloyal, like we are turning our back on all we went through that made sure I had the daughter I have here today. Which is so silly; we all know children grow up, lives move on and people grow with change. Being able to do some "normal" things is homage to the doctors and nurses who fought alongside my special girl.