I’m giving away a copy of the book, Preemie, by Kasey Mathews, because my daughter was born on August 12 and she will turn 13 in two weeks.
These facts were once inconceivable to me. Equally impossible for her to be born on that date, and for her to grow up so fast. Is there any parent yet who can believe his or her own eyes?
Georgia was born early. Not as extremely early as allowed by today’s medicine, but early enough for us to ask, in the haste of emergency intervention, whether or not she would be able to breathe at birth. The answer was, “Maybe.” Because of the steroids I’d been given, she did breathe, and we were lucky, and she was fine, eventually. We went home after a few weeks in the hospital, and figured out the rest one day at a time.
But there is a whole story I’ve left unsaid.
What brings this recollection near is that I’ve just finished reading Preemie by Kasey Mathews. Kasey’s daughter Andie was a micro-preemie born four months early. In impeccably etched detail, Mathews tells the whole unthinkable story of an implausible birth, the reality, the setbacks, the disbelief, denial, and fury. What she tells most courageously are those things that are so hard to say.
She was afraid of her baby.
She was afraid to look at her, to touch and tend her.
She was afraid of what she’d done wrong and what might yet go wrong, the hidden trapdoors, the other shoes.
She was afraid of what she knew and what she didn’t know, the permanent scars and looming catastrophes, the not-yets, the maybe-nevers.
She was afraid to love.
We share these fears no matter when or how we become parents, no matter how or when our children arrive, each of us unprepared, undefended and stripped naked of all our expectations.
Our babies survive our fear and failings. They outlast our ignorance, our desperate strivings, and the virulent certainty that we, and they, are somehow damaged or inadequate.
I don’t often address my daughter directly on this page, but it’s time to tell her the only thing I know for sure, the thing she’s known all along.
You have never been too early, too little, or too late. It’s only me who struggles to keep up, who labors at the pace, who resists the steady insistence of your momentous arrival.
I can hardly believe my eyes, but you’re here already!
Kasey Mathews is offering a signed copy of Preemie to a commenter on this post. No matter where you are in your parenting journey, how old or young your children, we are all about to be born into the inconceivable, a new day and stage, and we feel frightened and unprepared. Leave a comment by this Friday, August 3 and claim your early birthday gift.