I have always had high expectations for myself. The goal was always perfection. I played sports and I always wanted to be the best. Although my grades in school weren’t spectacular, they were what I considered my best effort. I got a sales position after college and I pushed myself to be the best locally in that position. I became an Assistant Store Manager and I put that career before everything in my life. So when I became pregnant and sick, my body forced me to put me first.
My expectations changed. I expected that my life would never be the same but I never realized how much it would change. For people on the outside looking in, my life probably doesn’t look that different except now I have a child. For me, I feel like a totally different person. The way that I got through my daughter being in the NICU for 93 days was thinking that each day, we would be a day closer to being home and that meant we could close the book on her being sick and she would be considered “normal”. I remember when we met with the doctors at the pre-discharge meeting being advised of things that we might want to do that would be treating Gillian different than the “normal” new born going home. For example, they asked us about pets, carpet & fireplaces because of allergies, they asked about who was going to watch Gillian while we were at work because of how fast an entire daycare can become ill and her immune system would be weaker & of course the shots to ward off RSV but then they told us to treat her “normal” otherwise. I was naïve then and really believed that I would walk out of the hospital and everything we went through would be behind us and we would be “normal”.
It’s been 3 years and I still don’t feel “normal”. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Gillian’s prematurity. From when I get her dressed and see her spine because she is so tiny (although she eats so much in a day, I’m not sure where it goes) to every time I think something is not going right I debate about calling her doctor or one of the therapists to see if it is “normal”. There is an actual ringtone on a cell phone that when I hear it reminds me of an alarm when she was in the NICU and I actually picture the 1st time I met Gillian with all the wires and tubes. When will the day come when I don’t worry about how prematurity will affect her life and just assume it is “normal”? I know a parent worries about their children but is this worrying that I’m doing “normal”? Should I give up on hoping for the day when I don’t have anxiety from worrying? My expectations were much different than what is happening.