Lessons from Flick.

Putting on my serious face again today.
Geesh, this is getting old.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back to snarking soon.
Check back tomorrow.

But today is a momentous day…as well as a day that makes me realize how quickly time is flying by…a day that fills my heart with love and happiness and at the same time is bittersweet and gives me a little pit in my stomach.

Today Thing 1 is 17.

Stop. It.

And as it turns out, I will only get to see her for approximately 90 minutes today anyway, as she will leave the house at 6:45 a.m. (to get to school early to meet with her math teacher) – not to return until after two back-to-back rehearsals at around 9:00 p.m.  And she has a major presentation in an AP class + a quiz and a quiz in math.
The kids grow up and life and schedules and commitments take over.
Welcome to adulthood.

But for an hour tonight (at 9:00) we’ll have ice-cream cake and presents and she’ll ride around the house on Husband’s shoulders to the Beatles Birthday Song just like she has since she was 4 (he swears he’ll do it until they’re 30…I swear he will not) and we’ll stretch every minute of that hour out….until reality hits and she realizes she still has 2 hours of homework to do.


Something you might not know about me (unless you actually have read the ‘meet the fam’ tab up above) is that both the Things were born prematurely.  Like frighteningly prematurely.  Thing 1 made her entrance into the world two and a half months before her due date, and Thing 2 decided to start right out of the gate following her big sister’s footsteps by coming two months early.  And don’t worry, I won’t go into the anatomical and physiological reasons that caused their premature births (let’s just say the words incompetent and cervix are part of it and leave it at that), but I will say that it was a terrifying experience (both times) and the main reason we are a family with only 2 children.

When Thing 1 turned 13 I wrote a note that I posted on facebook that sheds a little bit of light on her birth story, and some of the emotional fallout that occurred. Since today she turns 17, and because I now have this blog, I thought I’d repost it here, with a few minor adjustments and additions.

It seems like yesterday…and also like an eternity ago.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go grab a box of kleenex.
I must have something in my eye.


13 17 years ago today I was elated, exhausted and terrified as I was about to enter a territory that was completely foreign to me and one that I was not at all prepared for. I know those are all emotions that most new mothers feel, but my feelings were a bit unique. The rug of my picture book pregnancy got ripped out from under me when I gave birth to my daughter, two and a half months before she was due. After a shocking doctor’s appointment that sent me straight to the hospital, almost a week of being hooked up to Magnesium that made me feel like my limbs were on fire, getting steroid injections with a needle the size of a toothpick and many sleepless nights full of fear that my baby would not survive if she was born that early, she made her very early entrance into the world at the end of October (her due date? January 5th).

The adrenaline rush of having survived labor and delivery was quickly overshadowed by my first look at her impossibly tiny, fragile, bluish body that was still covered in downy hair. I only got a quick glimpse before she was whisked away by a team of specialists who would quickly help her breathe and put her into a warm incubator so she would feel “at home”…when I was the only home she should have had to know for another 10 weeks. As they wheeled her past me very quickly on her way to the NICU, I caught a glimpse of my baby girl. Incredibly tiny, but with big, beautiful brown eyes. My daughter. “Hi baby. I’m so sorry,” I said, knowing that there was nothing I did (that I could control) that caused her premature birth, but feeling responsible nonetheless for the harsh beginning of her life.

The days and weeks that followed have become a blur of procedures, machines, tubes…things that happily faded into a remote part of my brain after a few months when she grew into a fat, happy, healthy baby with lungs that you’d never know had survived weeks of intubation and that at one time had been considered weak. 

These things I certainly think about now and again, but here’s what I am thinking about today, 17 years later…

I’m thinking about all those days in the NICU, being terrified, but also looking at my baby and imagining all that she would be one day. We used to say things like, 
“get stronger and daddy will buy you a pony one day” (he did – a giant stuffed one for her 16th birthday.  He’s a man of his word) or “if you start breathing on your own you can have a car for your 16th birthday” (she had to wait a year, but we made good on that one).

But when I think of all the things that we imagined for our unbelievably small baby and wonder if we could have ever imagined how extraordinary she would become, I have to be honest and say that I’m not at all surprised. I knew it then, 17 years ago, even with all the obstacles we still had to overcome, that she would be remarkable. And at the risk of sounding like an overly proud mom, she is remarkable. And kind. And funny. And smart. Maybe it was all that she went through as an infant that has made her such a strong, self-confident girl. 

I always say that I got cheated out of the whole normal pregnancy and delivery experience. But I got cheated out of nothing. What I got was more amazing and beautiful than I could have ever imagined, but what I now realize I knew even 17 years ago.

I think Flick says it best in ‘A Bug’s Life’, 
“Everything that made that tree giant is already contained in this tiny seed.”



So Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.
The years are flying by and you are growing up…but what remains constant is 
your sweet smile, your kind heart and the joy you bring me every day.
You have grown into the most magnificent tree in the whole forest, just like I knew you would.


  1. Judy Susan on October 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Wait until thing becomes 33.. THIRTY FREAKING THREE.. that will make you like 102.. then you get to cry.. lol… if you can remember how. when you get to be my age,, you forget a lot.. it’s God’s way of saying “have a drink you earned it!”.

  2. Carolyn on October 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    So sweet! I totally teared up. You’re such a great mommy! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. ~Dawn~ on October 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    What a SWEET post. Happy Birthday to your daughter. I had a panic attack when my daughter turned 8 at the beginning of the month – I will be a wreck at 17.

  4. sandie on October 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Awww….so sweet! Happy Birthday to Thing 1!!!!! You are so right, time goes by much too quickly!

  5. Micah Cain on October 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Definitely made me tear up!

  6. Melissa on October 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Wow, what a birth story! It’s so amazing that kids who are born so early can live healthy, normal lives. 🙂

  7. Meghan on October 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Happy Birthday to Thing 1! You are such a great Mom!

  8. Evani Gatsby on October 24, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Such a sweet post. Happy Birthday Thing 1! 🙂

  9. Teri Biebel on October 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Awwww hope she has a wonderful birthday!!


  10. Sally on October 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Can’t realy see what I;m typig… too many tears, nice to read about her beginnings.

  11. kyna... on October 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Wow! 17! Happy Birthday to her!
    ♥ Kyna

  12. Casie on October 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Happy Birthday to Thing 1! What a great story. I too, have an incompetent cervix. I unfortunately had to find out the hard way and gave birth at 20 weeks along. (obviously that was just way too early) 2nd time around they put a stitch in my cervix. We made it to 36 weeks. Now we are on our 3rd, stitch in place, lets hope we dont get stuck in the hospital for weeks with baby #3. Anyway, I have been reading your blog for awhile now and I love it.. LOVE IT! — You are a great writer and I enjoy the stories. Again Happy 17th Birthday to Thing 1. What a wonderful young woman she has turned out to be. (at least by what you write! 😉 )

    • Michelle on October 26, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      Oh no! I’m so, so sorry about your loss. And also so happy to hear that things turned around and see that you have an adorable little boy (yep, I looked at pictures!). And yes, I got a lot of info about the stitch – but unfortunately in my case I’d have still been on hospitalized bed rest with it with another child. So there ya go. Good Luck to you!! I’ll be thinking about you and reading to see how you’re doing. And thanks for your kind words about my blog. I appreciate it more than you know!!
      🙂 m.

  13. […] To read the letter I posted two years ago about her frighteningly premature birth, click here. […]

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