While we were in the hospital for Matthew's birth, we were fortunate to have many friends visit us. One set of visiting friends had a baby in January, who was born 10 weeks prematurely. He is doing very well now and they are all settling into life at home. It was great to finally meet their son and share some time with friends who share a common bond as NICU alumni.
As we were talking, our friend told me that she thought that Nate and I were very brave. It struck me as an odd comment at the time - I didn't feel like we were doing anything that needed commending! She told me that she felt after what we went through with Will and Luke's birth in 2007, going through another pregnancy with all the potential risks and fear associated with it showed a lot of bravery on our part.
I have had a lot of time to think about this conversation during 3am feedings. As Matthew noshes and Nate sleeps next to me, it's definitely a good time to think about things!
In essence, I understand what she was saying. As a NICU parent, you have lived through a lot of fear and turmoil. When you got pregnant, you never really thought that you could end up in the NICU. Until your child really turns the corner, you hang onto every word your doctor says, feel angst over every milliliter of milk your child spits up, and wait with baited breath each night when your child is weighed because with each ounce gained, you are one step closer to home. Once your child is released, you vow never to go through that again.
Honestly though, during this pregnancy, it never occurred to me that we were being brave. We love being parents, and wanted to expand our family despite Luke and Will's unexpectedly dramatic premature birth. Though there were rough patches and many nerves as this pregnancy progressed, our faith kept us going... faith in God, faith in each other, faith that things were going to be okay. I can't tell you how many times I would get myself upset about something, and Nate would talk me down again by telling me that in his heart, he knew that things were going to be alright.
His heart was right.
I still don't know if I think we were being brave. But it is nice to know that someone thinks that we were! So in honor of bravery, I'd like to issue a challenge. Tell that person whose bravery you secretly admire that you think they're brave. It could be a friend who recently left an abusive relationship, a cousin who decided to forego her career as a lawyer because she found staying at home with her children much more fulfilling, your brother who faced spinal tumors and surgery with dry wit and perseverence, or a loved one moving on with life after the death of a spouse. That person may think that they're just doing what they have to in order to survive. But really it's a whole lot more.
We all want to be brave. On an average day, most of us don't think that we are. Sometimes it takes the view of someone on the outside to remind us that we've all got a bit of Superman in us.