If Jax Is Doing Great, Then Why Am I Falling Apart? (The Bittersweet First Birthday)

A lot of other preemie moms warned me that the first birthday would be a hard time. I didn’t really believe them! Why would a first birthday be anything other than a celebration!? I mean, making it a year, when doctors said from the start “he may not leave the hospital,” that’s amazing! He’s strong, he’s happy. He’s mostly healthy.

This week is the second week in a year where he has had no doctor’s appointments! (The first week off was when we were up north on vacation.)

There is a lot to celebrate! Not a second of a day goes by that I am not thankful that Jax’s journey has been a positive one of hope, strength, and love. He makes me laugh every day. He likes to sing songs. He’s “this close” to learning how to crawl! He’s a little fiesty boy with a huge personality. He’s our little superhero!


But, friends, now I get it. I understand what those other moms meant. It’s hard for me to find the words to explain what it is I’ve been feeling the last few weeks. So, I’ll try to give you some examples…

On the morning of Jax’s birthday, I woke up convinced that Jax was going to die that day. I felt like it was time for our luck to run out. And that since he didn’t die on his birth day, that, of course, he should die on his birthday. I ran into his room, I felt for his breathing. I was sure that I was not going to find it. And then, he started getting this weird rash…and oh my GOD! Was this it? But I kept it together, because I knew he wasn’t actually going to die…right?

Yesterday, I couldn’t let go of him. Each time I put him down, I was reminded (that’s not even a strong enough word, more like shocked) of the times I left him all alone in that hospital bed.

I’ll be walking into my living room, and all of a sudden I am there. I hear the alarms, I see the nurses faces, I feel the fear I felt in those early days when Jax was fighting infection after infection. I see him all tiny and sick. I see his arms and legs like little twigs. I see him with his eyes still fused shut. And then I realize that today (not this date last year, but today) is the day that his eyes first opened. I am there. 

The first time Mom saw Jax, 4 hours after his birth.
The first time Mom saw Jax, 4 hours after his birth.

I know it’s not logical and I know it’s not awesome. And I wish I had better words to explain it…it’s not happening every second of every day, but when it does happen, it stops me in my tracks.

Is this post-traumatic stress? Have any of you ever experienced anything like this? What did you do? I don’t know how to make it stop…