Over the past eight weeks, I keep getting the questions that most mothers of newborns get - "How are you doing? Are you all adjusting? Is Harris sleeping? How's Harper doing with having a baby around? Things are pretty hard with a newborn, aren't they?"
To be honest, yes, I have my days where I wake up, put on my "work out gear" with no plans of working out, throw on a baseball cap and get asked by my husband at the end of the day if I plan on taking a shower at all. Things can get pretty stressful when Jared is out of town for work, I have a toddler that is perfecting the art of the tantrum and a newborn that's screaming hysterically and only my boob in his mouth will make him stop....unfortunately, I have the tantrum throwing toddler in the bathtub so the newborn will just have to wail a little longer. Yes, I've had a few times when I've been up all night with Harris and just as I get him to sleep at 5am, Harper decides to wake up at 6:30am, rip roaring and ready to go for the day. And I might have repeated over and over again once or twice, "Lord, give me patience. Lord, give me patience. Lord, give me patience.".
However, today Harris is exactly the same age that Harper was when we brought her home from the hospital. That seems crazy to me! It feels like we've had Harris home for forever and that he's changed so much in just these two short months. So while we have our rough days and nights, we are also so grateful to have had a healthy baby at home this time around. It kind of puts things in perspective.
Now for those moms that might read this blog and are expecting a baby with a stay in the NICU, I don't say this to make you dread what is coming but I've realized a few things in comparing my two experiences:
1. Once your baby is home or if you have other children later down the road, I hope you can pause in the middle of a sleepless night with a screaming baby to appreciate being home and being the one to hold your baby. I am still thankful that I am able to walk just a few short steps across the house to check on my babies.
2. I'm not sure if this is the case with all moms of NICU babies but I realize now that I didn't fully "bond" with Harper until we had her home. Sure, I loved her but I didn't really feel like she was mine when we were in the hospital. People kept talking about that motherly love but I don't know that I fully got it until Harper was at home with us and was 100% our responsibility. I've noticed with Harris that it kicked in much earlier and I think much of that has to do with Harper's time in the hospital.
3. It made me mad at the time when people would tell me that Harper's first year of life with all of its heartache and difficulty would seem like a small blip on the radar screen. But you know what? It's true! As I watched Harper run and play with the other kids at gym yesterday, it was amazing to think how normal our lives are now and how much we have to be grateful for in such a small amount of time. The normalness of watching my little girl learn new things each day, of watching her try new challenges, learn new social skills and be amazed at her curiosity has taken over those terrifying thoughts and fears.
I know they say not to compare your children to one another but in times like these, I'm happy to do so because it makes me stop and say, "Lord, I am thankful. Lord, I am thankful. Lord, I am thankful."