|Happy Birthday Jayden|
Chances are if I was asked the day my son was born what my life would look like in three years, I wouldn't even come close to painting the correct picture. Two new jobs, a stay at home dad gig, a support group, millions of laughs, thousands of tears, countless milestones and I love you's later, I could not feel more blessed about where I am and what lies ahead for me personally, and especially for my family.
One thing I wish I could let every NICU dad know is that the NICU can be unpredictable, and the moment I allowed myself to accept fear, uncertainly, and anger, I was able to let it go. Soon after I found room for hope and since then my perspective has changed how I live my life. Not just as the parent of a preemie, but as a husband, dad, and human being.
Jayden finds a way to amaze us every day. He has come so far from that sweet little 3lbs. 6oz. boy. Some days I wonder if he will ever go to sleep, then in a blink of an eye a month has passed. I am so proud of the little man his is becoming. Are there tough days? Absolutely. But as most kids do, Jayden saves his funniest/cutest moments for when we near our breaking points with him. It's equal parts gift and curse.
Looking back on three amazing years, I'd like to share three lessons I have learned along the way that relate to prematurity:
Year one- no matter the obstacles your child faces, love and attention will help them flourish to the best of their abilities. Be sure to Kangaroo with your children whenever possible. (I passed on the opportunity and it was my biggest regret in the NICU) Play with your child, show them affection, and communicate with them. The response they have is nothing short of amazing.
Year two- Milestones are important, but they are not everything. As the parent of a preemie, holding your breath as you watch your child hit milestone markers is stressful. It consumed me. I lost sleep, perhaps a little patience with life in general too. But then it dawned on me one day as I watched my son do a new small simple task, that our kids are growing and learning every day. Take a moment every day to step back and embrace the moment. Watch your child closely, as they may be doing amazing things you may not have noticed.
Year three- parenting is a labor of love, no matter your circumstances. The last six months have been a blend of exciting progress and hair pulling frustration. Jayden is a wonderful, bright, affectionate, and energetic little dude. He is also going through the "Terrible Twos" stage and to be quite blunt, it's a lot harder than I expected it would be. Coupled with speech and developmental delays, sometimes it's hard to filter between choice and circumstance. Taking Jayden out in public by myself can be an arduous task at times. I remember when i was younger watching parents and thinking "How can they be ignoring their child?" or "I'd never let that fly?". How naive of me...But even on the toughest days there are moments that make my heart smile. You just have to take it one day at a time.
I can't believe we will celebrate three years of an amazing journey today. Happy Birthday Jayden! Daddy loves you so much!