Sunday, February 06, 2011

Holland

 I've had a lot of things going through my mind lately, and lot that I'm struggling to deal with, and put behind me instead of suppressing. A year ago, today, I was told that I was in labor, and life-flight was coming to pick me up and transport me to a hospital that could handle the prematurity of a little 24week baby. At the time I don't think I could have even comprehended that severity of my situation. Hind-sight is 20-20 though, right? If I had given birth at that time, my boy wouldn't be here today. I honestly believe that. And I struggle with that.
Everything was completely out of my hands, I had no control over my situation, or my baby boy. I was lucky enough to be stabilized, and this became my new home for 5 weeks.

and ok, yeah it was awesome getting to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and try to fatten my baby up, but really? It was the longest 5 weeks of my life, that i wish would have gone on for 5 more weeks. Sometimes I wonder how Martin would have been if I was able to keep him cookin' longer, if he had been born later.

(and I could have lived without all of these:)


And i realize I can't change what happened, and that the wondering of "what-if?" will do me no good. I'm working on overcoming that. But I still feel overwhelming empathy every time I see Life-Flight fly by, land, or take off. I actually couldn't drive by the hospital I was life-flighted from for a while after I saw discharged, it brought up a lot of emotions that I didn't want to deal with, and probably couldn't, at that time. I feel so much emotion and heart-ache for the person being life-flighted, and say a prayer for them every time.

And I struggle with seeing others and their 'perfect' babies, who don't struggle like my baby, who are skipping from milestone to milestone, while my baby is painstakingly working on reaching each milestone--right now, the sitting up, and putting weight on his feet. It's hard for me to see babies so much younger than mine doing this things that my baby can't. And I know, I shouldn't compare him to others, but it's so difficult not to compare, and wonder when, or if my baby will ever get there. I'm struggling with that right now.

And watching other moms feed their babies, and have them willing take it, to suck on a bottle, accept a spoon in their mouth without a hysterical meltdown. It makes it even harder, to the point that I want to avoid anyone with a baby.

And to those who say they know what I'm going through? I want to scream at them that they have no idea! The time you spent in the NICU is dwarfed by the time he spent there. I even spent more time in the NICU than your baby did. And because your baby doesn't like to eat veggies? You don't understand what it's like having a baby who will eat NOTHING, and would rather starve than eat.

But I'm learning to deal with all the things that have dumped upon us this past year, and accept things, and learn to love them. I'm realizing that I shouldn't hope and wish for what is 'normal', because our life is perfect. My baby is beautiful and perfect with his oxygen tube on his face, and stickers on his cheeks. With a cord coming off his foot recording his stats, and a tube pumping food in his belly. I'm a long way from loving all of it, but I'm learning to accept it, and learning to not wish for changes.


WELCOME TO HOLLAND--By Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.



And that's where I'm at right now. Only my flight took off before I was ready, and landed before I was ready, with a lot of turbulence. I still reel from it all.


Welcome to Holland (Part 2)" by Anonymous

I have been in Holland for over a decade now. It has become home. I have had time to catch my breath, to settle and adjust, to accept something different than I'd planned.

I reflect back on those years of past when I had first landed in Holland. I remember clearly my shock, my fear, my anger—the pain and uncertainty. In those first few years, I tried to get back to Italy as planned, but Holland was where I was to stay.

Today, I can say how far I have come on this unexpected journey. I have learned so much more. But, this too has been a journey of time. I worked hard. I bought new guidebooks. I learned a new language and I slowly found my way around this new land.

I have met others whose plans had changed like mine, and who could share my experience. We supported one another and some have become very special friends. Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasoned guides, assisting me along the way. Many have encouraged me. Many have taught me to open my eyes to the wonder and gifts to behold in this new land. I have discovered a community of caring. Holland wasn't so bad.

I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land of hospitality, reaching out to welcome, to assist and to support newcomers like me in this new land. Over the years, I've wondered what life would have been like if I'd landed in Italy as planned. Would life have been easier? Would it have been as rewarding? Would I have learned some of the important lessons I hold today?

Sure, this journey has been more challenging and at times I would (and still do) stomp my feet and cry out in frustration and protest. And, yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift.

I have learned to slow down in ways too and look closer at things, with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its' tulips, windmills and Rembrandts.

I have come to love Holland and call it Home.

I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn't matter where you land. What's more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn't planned. Yet I am thankful, for this destination has been richer than I could have imagined!


I'm not there yet. I'm still getting used to being where we are, and our situation.  But hopefully, I'll get there soon. And someday I'll look back, and be so grateful for the experiences. But not yet, right now they still hurt, I still struggle, and they're not behind me.

This is what living like this does.

7 comments:

  1. I think you are amazing! Heavenly Father truly knows how strong you are to handle all of this! Thanks for being a great example to the rest of us.

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  2. I've always loved the Holland story. It has been a difficult year for you, but you have born it with grace and dignity. What an impressive gal you are!

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  3. *HUGS* for you, mama!

    I was reading this and thought, "Didn't she already post the Holland story? I remember it being really wonderful." Then I realized that it was my other friend with the long-term NICU baby, who posted it on her blog at http://lindseymichelle.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/questions/

    You're doing an amazing job, don't ever forget that!

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  4. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing!! you are such a strong person; I don't know if I could handle what you have in the last year. I love that story. A friend of mine put it on her fb a couple weeks ago and I think it can be true of a lot of people, but especially moms with very special kids!! YOU ARE AMAZING!!!

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  6. You are amazing. I sometimes think about your experiences - usually when my nighmares wake me up frantically grasping for my baby to make sure she's breathing - and just am in awe at how strong you and Matt are. How much you've gone through together with your son. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and helping the rest of us be more understanding; be stronger.

    Much love.

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