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The Emotion Parents of Preemies Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Feel

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I’ve been a little disconnected lately, partially because we’re busy and partly because I felt I didn’t know what to say. So I sat down today to really think about why. How can I have nothing to say when my head is always spinning with thoughts?

It came down to the fact that I realized I’m angry. And I don’t feel like it’s OK to say that out loud.

It’s been two years since my son V came home, and it often feels like this anger should be over.

But the truth is I’m still angry.

I’m angry about everything we went through.

I’m angry that V had to fight for his life.

I’m angry that we’re still so affected by V’s extreme prematurity.

I’m angry that we’ve been isolated for so long.

I’m angry that we’ve lost friendships because of it.

I’m angry that sometimes it seems hearing good news is harder than hearing bad news.

I’m angry that we’re still waiting for the “other shoe to drop.”

I’m angry that fewer and fewer people seem understanding of our restrictions. And even less people actually get why we have to do this.

I’m angry that we don’t know what the future holds and that the answer to most questions of “When will V do/be ___” is “We don’t know!”

I’m angry that we didn’t experience the typical rites of passage for new parents.

I’m angry that people keep expecting V to be the kid he would have been had he been born on time.

Guys, I’m really angry still. And that needs to be OK to say… even two year out.

If you’re a preemie parent reading this, I want you to know it’s OK to be angry. Whether you’re in the NICU, just discharged and home with your preemie or it’s been years. It’s OK. Even if it seems like other preemie parents have moved on, I want this post to remind you that it’s not necessarily true. We all grapple with different emotions at different times. There’s no one way to process this, and there’s no end point after which you and your preemie are “cured” of prematurity. It’s OK.

And if you’re a non-preemie, non-NICU parent reading this, I want you to know it’s OK that I’m angry. You don’t have to fix it or try to say something to make it better. When we made the decision to take all possible measures to save V’s life, this is the life we signed up for. A beautiful, wonderful, messy, complicated life — one I wouldn’t trade for the world.

This post originally appeared on Handpicked Miracles.

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Originally published: May 11, 2015
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