I recently saw a post on a Parenting Multiples page on facebook that asked when does the anxiety from having babies in the NICU go away. She went on the say that at every doctor’s appointment she has to recount their early birth and associated health risks/issues and that she nearly has panic attacks. While, I don’t have that level of anxiety, I can relate to her situation.
When talking about our NICU experience, I often hear “but they are healthy now” and yes, that is true, but it doesn’t take away the way we felt during that time and residual feelings that I still have even almost three years after the fact. While, they are healthy and we still have doctor’s visits related to their early arrival and questions that make me relive the situation.
Case in point: their eye doctor visit last month. This was a follow up appointment from the one they had at five weeks. Preemies are at a higher risk for retinopathy and being nearsighted. Retinopathy was ruled out at 5 weeks when they dilated and held open their eyes with a medieval torture device causing both children to reach new octaves. Nearsightedness was ruled out at this last appointment as Maria, after answering all of Grant’s questions for him, demonstrated that not only can she see fantastically, but that her vision is much better than mine! Our doctor was pleased and said their vision is that of normal full term babies and we didn’t need to be seen again until kindergarten.
We have another visit this summer that I hope will close the door on preemie related doctor’s appointments. It’s the dreaded cardiology follow up to see if their PFOs have closed. At the last visit Maria screamed so much that they never could do the echocardiogram on her. Based on her volume and pink color it was determined that if she does still have the PFO that it’s not causing any issues. Grant obliged to his exam and still had a tiny opening. Both will have to go back this summer. Even after this cardiology appointment I will still worry about the impact of their early birth on their ability to learn once in school because preemies have a higher instance of learning disabilities.
So, yes, they are healthy, but just because they are healthy doesn’t mean that everything is over. Those 27 days they were in the hospital were the hardest of my life. I think I was in a numb fog most of the time and when I wasn’t numb I cried. Each milestone helps and the distance from that time helps. But I will never forget.