Every day for the last three months I have had some version of the following conversation with someone:
Them: How’s Josh?
Them: Great! Any idea when he’s coming home?
Me: Hopefully somewhere around his due date!
Them: If not before!
(And then we would high five each other.)
But when May came along, that conversation changed. My answer was no longer so confident. We knew Josh most likely wouldn’t be home by his due date. No one could say for sure but it was fairly obvious.
And just like that, May 30th didn’t matter to me anymore. I still counted how many weeks Josh was and the doctors used that to set goals for him. But May 30th, a day I had been waiting for since September, wasn’t important. It was just another day.
So today when I woke up and remembered the date, I was surprised to realize how sad I was. I didn’t expect to be sad. I’ve known for weeks that May 30th didn’t mean anything anymore. But I guess a part of me still held out a little hope. I thought maybe I would arrive at the NICU and the nurses would tell me that a miracle had happened and Josh was totally ready to leave. That is so ridiculous that I’m embarrassed I even thought it. But I couldn’t help it.
When Josh was born and the doctor was telling us the game plan, I kept thinking, “We just have to make it to the end of May.” I counted out the days – 97. 97 days and we could pretend this never happened. Now May 30th is here, and Joshua is definitely not going home, and I’m kind of at a loss. What do I hope for now? Do I keep counting days? How much longer will I sit in that NICU day after day after day, waiting to hear the doctors say when we can leave?
A lot of people want to remind me how far Josh has come. Do me a favor and don’t. I don’t want to be rude and I sincerely appreciate all of the encouragement; I truly do. I know how far he’s come. I of all people have seen the immense progress and the incredible steps my little micro-preemie has taken and I am so proud of him. He’s done an amazing job.
But I just want him home.
I have been wearing my “I’m a Mom!” button every day for 97 days. If I leave my button at home my mistake, I get another one at the NICU. I wear it because I like it and I am proud to be a mom. But I also know that if I don’t wear it, no one will know I’m a mom. I don’t have a baby with me; I’m not carrying a car seat or pushing a stroller; I don’t even have baby things in my diaper bag yet. No one would know I’m a mom without talking to me. That makes me sad. Josh has never even seen his room. He’s never seen all the toys I have for him or the funny frog towel my sister gave him. I know he will. I just don’t know when.
May 30th is a bittersweet day for me. I’m so proud of Joshua and all that he has accomplished. And it breaks my heart every single day when I have to leave him behind. So I guess I’ll just wait for today to be over and see how May 31st goes.