Several weeks ago, when I was writing my post about the fourth anniversary of the boys' homecoming from the NICU, I wrote something along the lines of the following:
"I couldn't help but get a little teary when I thought about how much different things could have been".
When I then went back and read what I wrote, I realized it could have been misconstrued without further explanation - so I promptly took it out.
So let me ask you: What do you think I meant by that statement?
Well I tell you this. Up until sometime in the past (a year ago? a month ago? a week ago?) I probably would have meant something different. Something maybe like...
What could have been had the boys been born at term, not 14 weeks early;
What could have been if they'd come home from the hospital at birth, not after a five month hospitalization;
What could have been if we weren't all still traumatized from the NICU experience;
What could have been with typically developing twins, running around and getting into trouble as I'd imagined;
What could have been without cerebral palsy and therapy and equipment;
What could have been if our family unfolded exactly the way I'd always thought it was supposed to.
Nolan, ventilated with an IV in his head because all other sites had been exhausted.
Asher, ventilated and getting an EEG to rule out suspected seizures.
What could have been: such a loaded statement with endless hypotheticals about a different reality. But when I wrote it recently, that different reality wasn't the one I was referring to at all. What I actually meant was...
What could have been if Asher and Nolan weren't here to be the final pieces that complete our family;
What could have been if the best sister in the world had no siblings;
What could have been if Jordan and I, who always wanted a big family, only had one child;
What could have been if my mind and heart were not enlightened to all of the abilities and blessings that exist within, and in spite of, a disability;
What could have been had the boys not survived.
Really, it all comes down to that and that alone. Both of them came very close to not surviving on multiple occasions. I flash back to the night they were born when our nurse told us we should take some photos of the boys. We said "Don't worry, we will tomorrow", knowing we only had our ancient cell phones and Jordan could bring a real camera the following morning. Her response was "No, I think you should take some pictures now". At the time, I thought she was just encouraging us to capture them in their first hours of life, and maybe that's all she meant. But in hindsight, I realize she was probably fearful tomorrow might not arrive for the boys.
But tomorrow did arrive that next day and then for 152 more days until they were home with us. And now four and a half years since their birth, we have cherished every single day with them, never taking a single tomorrow for granted.
Many other micro preemies, however, don't see tomorrow. And often if they do, they face lifelong health challenges. Sure, some are lucky enough to walk away from their micro prematurity more or less unscathed, and trust me - I used to focus on that. But no longer. Now I focus on the fact that our amazing boys are with us. They are incredibly healthy - as healthy as any four year old born at term, which is a miracle in itself. They are bright, shining stars in our family. They completed the perfect family that I may not have envisioned, but was the family I was always supposed to have.
So I ask myself - how could I ever have imagined what could have been being better than that? Because nothing in this world is better than them (all three of them!) exactly as they are.