As I drove out of the parking lot, I could hear her crying. Tears filled my eyes. A golf ball sized gulp formed in my throat. My knuckles turning white as I pointed my car towards home.
The last time I felt this way we were driving away from Children’s Hospital, leaving Willa behind at the NICU when I was discharged (months) before she was. Looking in the rearview mirror feeling helpless. Fighting the feeling to turn the car around. Knowing I would be back just a few hours later, but none the less, feeling guilty beyond measure. Mama guilt is a powerful thing.
Although, today these similar feelings were for a much happier reason. Today we reached a milestone we weren’t so sure we’d ever get to. Something we were told she may not be able to do until at least 2 years of age. Today is Willa’s first day of childcare. For some, this may seem like a small accomplishment. But for Willa, this is so much more than that.
For the last year and a half, Willa has been home with me unable to go to any form of childcare. As much as we knew she needed socialization and stimulation from outside of the home, we were told it wasn’t advisable. But all of that changed today.
See, Willa has lung disease. She was born two and a half months premature at just 3 lbs. As if that wasn’t enough, she contracted RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) at just one week of age, which for premature babies like Willa became life-threatening. She was on breathing machines and life support for more days than I care to remember, followed by 2 months in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Children’s Hospital in Denver gaining strength until she was healthy enough to come home. It was the hardest 2 months of our lives. But Willa showed the world just how determined she was. At her last checkup, she weighed in a whopping 23 lbs and the doctors agree she’s thriving and healthy enough to start school.
Disclaimer – the school sent a photo just moments later (before I even got home) of her having fun with her new friends. Just in case you were wondering. 😉
Our girl is a fighter. She is brave beyond words and stronger than any woman I know. Without her, our lives just wouldn’t be complete. So, Miss Willa (or Little “G”, as Miles calls her – stands for “little girlfriend”), you’ve done it again. You continue to amaze us everyday and we are so incredibly thankful to have you in our lives. We love you, baby girl.