I have been thinking a lot about silver linings lately. I have found that my life actually contains a lot of them. A lot of upsets followed by a lot of “it got better” moments. At the times these upsets have happened, I have been devastated. I have sobbed. I have cursed the universe. I have shouted to the gods and goddesses and loved ones I’ve lost about why these upsets were happening to me. To us. What had I done to deserve them? I am a normal girl who works hard for the life she wants and for a long time I had felt like I was being dumped on. But what happened instead of the thing I originally wanted ended being better for me, better for us and/or gave us a greater appreciation for what we ended up with.
Here are a couple of examples.
Years ago, I was temping in what was effectively the doctors surgery of an open prison. Yup, glamorous! But I loved it, I loved my colleagues and the prisoners seemed to get on with me. And when the opportunity to become permanent cropped up I thought our finances could finally get back on track. But then I heard that it was protocol to advertise internally with the company who runs it first. And someone higher up than my then manager had chosen some stranger from another site before we even got the chance to say anything. She was gutted. I was gutted. We cried together. And I had to leave a job I was perfect for, due to stupid procedure. This was when I applied for a temp job in the company I am still with. They promised that as long as I worked hard, the temp to permanent would happen no problems. And I was sceptical and fearful of course as so many companies had promised the same. But this company came through. I finally had a permanent job, after 4 years of waiting. I have since changed departments, and gone part time when I went back after my maternity leave, but I am still there. They never gave up on me, and have been wonderfully accommodating with everything Jack related. Thats me silver lining.
Another example is house hunting. When we first looked at buying a house together, we found a lovely little two bedroom house which was a 25 drive away from my parents, which was not ideal, but it was affordable in a lovely area and had more than one bedroom. And we had paid out quite a bit of money, when the vendors then decided that actually they don’t want to split up and were no longer selling. We were crushed. And they never bothered to reimburse us our money either. So we were forced to look elsewhere in our price range. And finally, we noticed an advert for a house 5 minutes from my parents’, even though it was only one bedroom. We jumped at it and got it. Being in the area we both grew up felt so much better than the area we were going to move to. We were still near our parents, we could walk to friends houses and our local pub. And then when Jack was born we were 5-10 minutes from the best NICU around, and then I could drop him off with Mum no issues to go back to work. Living in this area is so much better than where we would have been. We have had a couple of other housing related “lucky escapes” too. When we were ready to move to a house with more bedrooms once Jack was born, we looked at a few. There was one at the end of a cul de sac overlooking beautiful fields, but someone put in an offer before we’d sold ours so we missed out. And now? At the end of that cul de sac on those beautiful fields, a whole new hideous estate of new houses is being built. Another one we wanted, that we missed out on for the exact same reason, has now had a bunch of yellow lines plonked in front of it as it’s near a school and the school traffic was horrendous. I look at that house now and actually the school traffic would have made me miserable and the yellow lines would prevent us from having visitors. We are now is a wonderful house, in the perfect peaceful location with a park for Jack right close by. That’s another silver lining.
And Prematurity. Now I am a firm believer that there is never a reason, not any you could ever say, for a child to suffer. I look at my boy, remembering his struggles to breathe, grow, feed, and move about and I know there is NO reason. He didn’t deserve it. But there is still a silver lining. Jack proved he is strong and a fighter and actually so did I. He battled to breathe. I battled Anxiety and PTSD. We both came out stronger. And I have a greater appreciation for him, and I perhaps even parent differently to how I would have if everything had been normal. Instead of putting him down to nap, I still snuggle my 3 year old for an hour each afternoon. Because we are lucky to have each other and both lucky to be alive. The washing up can always wait.
Another little one is when he wakes in the night crying for me. He has always been a good sleeper and slept through from round about 3 months which is when we brought him home. Other parents will say I am lucky and I am. But I also felt like I missed out on those midnight moments when it feels like you are the only 2 people in the world and you cuddle together for a feed. But then when Jack was about 2 and went into his own room (when we moved house) he started having what we are assuming are night terrors where he would wake up crying, meaning I would have to go in and either comfort him there or bring him into our bed. The first time he woke in the night and wouldn’t settle was a work night for hubby so I took Jack to the lounge and we snuggled on the sofa so hubs could go back to sleep. Jack and I snuggled on the sofa until he dropped off again and I had a little cry that I was finally having a quiet midnight moment with my boy, as I had had so many stolen from me by the NICU. So many nights when he was a new born and would have woken in the night but I wasn’t there, I’d been sent home. I was so so happy to finally get a moment that a normal mum would. So thats my silver lining of my little boy waking on the night.
My last silver lining is relating to social media. It’s fair today the world now has an unhealthy obsession with the internet and social media, myself included. We carry our smart phones on our person at all times and sometimes forget to go out an live life. But the silver lining to having the world in your pocket? When something terrible happens, you may feel like you are the only person who knows how it feels. If I had had Jack before the invention of Facebook, I would have feel extremely alone. I would have no on who truly knows how I was feeling in my circle. The same goes for my eating disorder which is called ARFID. I’ve mentioned it in other posts I think. Before the internet, I believed wholeheartedly that I was the only person on the planet with ARFID. It didn’t even have a name. But when the internet was still new, I discovered someone blog page detailing how they feel exactly like me. And suddenly, I was relieved. There was someone out there like me. And I cannot describe how that felt after almost 20 years of living with it. And when I had Jack at 28 weeks, there was a Facebook group full of thousands of woman just like me, who understand the fear and frustration and helplessness of Prematurity. I know I’m not the only one. I have a whole hoard of people who will understand if a comment upsets me, whether it be about Prematurity or ARFID. And for that I have social media to thank.
Which leads me to sign off with my thanks to you, dear reader. Whether you are my friend in real life or a Beyond The NICU follower with your own preemie, thank you for letting me share and for helping me feel less alone.
What silver linings can you think of from your life? I’d love to hear!