Last week, I took a week off from blogging and my life and kidnapped my 6.5 year old and took her on a trip to Disneyland. We had been talking about this trip for almost a year. She really wanted to go, and we had promised Rosa (our nanny’s daughter and my defacto daughter) that we would take her as a high school graduation present. The trip kept getting pushed out for one reason or another. Then, the stars aligned, and I was able to find four days that would work for everyone (and Peter’s Silver employee pass was not blacked out).
So,on Tuesday, Irene, Rosa and I headed out for a girls road trip to LA. The drive down was easy. We made a quick stop to visit my grandfather and his girlfriend. After three hours with them, the girls and I piled in the car and headed to the happiest place on earth.
We got up early, and made the trek to the park. The weather was perfect, and I loved seeing the smiles on Irene and Rosa’s faces.
Now, you may be asking yourself, what the hell does this have to do with the Therapy Fund… well… bare with me.
As we wandered around the park our first day, I was struck by how many families were there with their disabled children. As the day wore on, and the number of beautiful children I saw in wheelchairs grew, my level of anxiety and discomfort began to grow.
You see, that could of, and by most statistics, should have been me.
For the first time in a very long time, I was forced to look at my preemie experience and confront the what-ifs. Now, this is an awkward position to be in. My son is doing great. He has little to no known issues stemming from his extreme prematurity. Yes, things may show up as he gets older, but as of right now, he is a totally healthy, issue free toddler.
But, as I walked around Disneyland, my thoughts and emotions drifted to the what-could-have-beens. I thought about all the things that could have gone wrong with Sam. How I could have been the mother pushing my child around around in a wheelchair. How I could have been the mother mourning the loss of her child. All of that hit me while wandering through Disneyland.
Then, another wave of emotion took hold – relief and gratitude. Of course, those two emotions brought with them their good friend guilt. I feel like a terrible person looking at these families and saying to myself “thank god that isn’t me!”.
Bottom line: I am one lucky woman to have the wonderful boy that I do. I am eternally grateful to all the doctors and nurses that helped to ensure my son’s health and well being. And I am more in awe of the families with children with disabilities than I ever was. The scars of the NICU are still there, and I will have to remember that the littlest things can trigger big and complex emotions.