Friday, January 15, 2010

Should have been

Today is baby goat's "should be" 9 month birthday.  If he'd been born on his due date rather than 7 weeks early he'd be turning 9 months old today and I'd be taking pictures and likely going to the doctor and countless other things.

The whole aspect of prematurity, once I've been removed from the fear and stress of it, is a lesson in "should have beens" for me.  When your child is brand new and so small the should have beens are big.  He should have come home when I did from the hospital.  I should have had gone into labor like a normal woman.  We should have had 7 more weeks to prepare the babies room - we didn't even have car seats.  I shouldn't have had to go back to work before he'd even left the NICU.

When it was all fresh these should haves were like open wounds and in a way they took longer to heal than my c-section scar.  But as we celebrated milestone after milestone the should have beens became real live joys.  Does anyone celebrate a full feeding like the parent of a child born too young to be able to eat without a tube?  Does anyone celebrate an ounce like a family watching a scale creep up day by day?

I am prone to should haves.  They are a form of guilt.  For example I should be cleaning, but instead I'm trying to process these thoughts, and that's ok too.  I can get overwhelmed by should haves.  But it is baby goat that reminds me that the should haves are so rarely what God has in mind.  Baby goat came 7 weeks early, I was very sick, he was very small, and yet 10.5 months later I couldn't change a thing, even if I wanted to.  So it is his should be 9 month birthday, today it doesn't matter because he is just exactly who he is regardless of how you count his age.

I have been pondering this week who baby goat will grow up to be.  Will he be a musician?  A scientist, lawyer or teacher?  Will he be good at sports or math or both?  Will he be kind, generous, loving and faithful?  What will be our struggles as he is our first "tester" child?

The wounds of the should haves heal with time, so does the guilt.  Baby goat is exactly who he is and instead of looking back it is time to start looking forward.  Each day he is less defined by his early start and more defined simply by himself and the love he gives and receives.

It may be his 9 month "should be" birthday.  But his real life 1 year birthday is less than 2 months away and countless other real milestones too.

There may be scars left from those open wounds.  Scars are signs of where you've been, but after a time they do not dictate where you are going.

Happy "9 months" baby goat.  Who you are is more grounding to our family than any should have been.


Melinda said...

What a sweet post! My daughter and baby goat must be close to the same age....

Jana said...

Love this post. We celebrate Sadie's "shoulda-been" birthday too. Her first shoulda-been birthday was 20 days after she came home from the hospital... 10 weeks after her actual birthday. Last year we celebrated it with a cake. We will do something this year too (January 24) for her shoulda-been 2nd birthday. I don't feel guilty for spoiling her with 2 birthdays... the way she came into this world was totally unfair, much like baby goat, and you know we all have plenty to celebrate!!!

Rebecca said...

Wow, Liz, what a post. This is absolutely beautiful. You should share this more broadly for other parents of premies. Maybe you could share this with Cribsheet? Or, can we share it with the Blooma blog ( I think a lot of moms and dads would find your words comforting and inspiring.

You do a have a lot of "should haves" and "what ifs." I love how you also see all the wonderful things that you do have because of this experience - things that parents of full-term babies take for granted.

Thank you for a great post to start out the day.

Molly Guthrey Millett said...

I'm currently reading a "momoir" called "This Lovely Life" by Vicki Forman, whose twins were born at 23 or 24 weeks, I think. It's pretty powerful. Your situation is quite different, but I wonder if some of what she writes might speak to you.

Anti-Supermom said...

I think every mother is full of 'should haves'. As Baby Goat gets older, those memories will fuzz, you will not see difference in his adjusted age.

What a well written post, Liz!

Marie said...

I had such an awesome time last night. Meeting all of you was so special. I didn't mean to offend anyone when I left last night, but the wine (on an empty stomach except dinner) hit me pretty hard. I am sad that I missed the reat of the gathering. However, I can't thank you enough for organizing the event for Emilie, and I do hope that we'll make this a tradition. I think you are a gem and I'm honered to have met you and the rest of crew.
God Bless,

Spot On Your Pants said...

Cool post. If you aren't cleaning, then I'm not starting! Wait until he starts telling you what he wants to be. We have a future bus, mermaid, and monster truck driver here! (tears of joy, right?)

happygal said...

What a very sweet post. I agree. There are absolutely those moments of second guessing and doubt when you have a preemie. Thank you for sharing them.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

There's another glaring should have been that haunted me all weekend, Liz. It was the "should have been" of who was missing on Saturday. But that thought was tempered by the fact that if she'd been with us, I never would have met you. Along with all the should have beens in this life are the blessings that come in their aftermath. I am so happy we've met for real now. You are an awesome mother and person!

simplicity said...

That last sentence was my favorite part: Who you are is more grounding to our family than any should have been.

Beautiful post. Great meeting you last night Liz!