33 Weeks vs. 33 Years
This quarantine has me in a very reflective mode. Replaying events of my life, trying to connect the dots on how traumatic events from my past have shaped who I am today, how I have responded and the lessons I've learned. First up is Solomon's birth. My water broke at 33 weeks. Babies are considered full-term at 40 weeks. Solomon arriving 7 weeks early had been expected due to my pregnancy complications. However, I was still very shook. *For the full story, reference my blog entitled "I am 1 in 8: My Infertility Story".
Fast forward to Solomon actually being born. I remember seeing the expression on the nursing staff's faces when my doctor handed him over to be weighed for the first time. It was a mix of confusion, excitement, and relief. They weighed him twice because there's was no way a baby born at 33 weeks was 6 lbs. 9 oz. But there clearly WAS a way, lol.
On the outside, Solomon's body looked to be full-term. If you placed him next to a baby born at 40 weeks, there wouldn't be a way to tell he was born prematurely. However, on the inside of his body, Solomon was still developing and needed to be monitored. His breathing, ability to eat on his own, sleep pattern, and organ development all had to be evaluated and closely watched by the beloved NICU staff. Although he looked ready to be released from the hospital, they wouldn't let him come home with us until he reached 35 weeks. We had to wait 2 long weeks to finally bring him to his loving home.
As I sit here, remembering that time of my life, I can't help but see how it coincides with how Solomon's 33 week birth speaks to me on a spiritual level, and how it resonates with my character development and my purpose. If God is evaluating me as a whole, that means He is analyzing my external and internal, simultaneously.
On the outside, I look like I'm ready for Him to use me within my purpose. I have a solidified career in which I am highly successful. I have the outer appearance of someone who "has it together": when I step out the house, my hair is right, outfit fitting nicely, and I have a choice of cars to drive. On social media, I share insightful quotes and parts of my life that seem to showcase the wonderful days I have as individual and with my family. I smile big, smize (word to Tyra Banks), laugh and exude such happiness and contentment through my online presence. I'll call that the "highlight reel". It legit looks like I'm ready! How could it not?
Just how Solomon was given what he needed to develop and grow internally while in the NICU, God has planted resources around me to explore my internal healing and development as well. I decided to courageously start a journey with therapy because I've reached my breaking point. 7 years later, I'm still processing the details around my first loss from 2013. I recently experienced a second loss - this time it was the 2nd-trimester pregnancy loss of my baby girl in March 2020 (I will unpack this at a later date). Add to that, dealing with emotional triggers, trying to maintain sanity while functioning with grief, severe depression, and hormonal changes. I go to the point where I felt like I was going to snap or just straight up quit. On my own, I don't have what it takes to overcome all of this. It's safe to say, it was beyond time to seek professional help.
Therapy has been very beneficial and the best decision I've made as a self investment. Talking to a non-biased person who is educated and experienced in dealing with the issues I share, has given me a safe place. My therapist has recommended ways to combat negative thoughts, books, ideas, how to overcome triggering moments and helpful perspectives that I would have never thought to indulge in had it not been for me attending therapy in the first place. The most life changing suggestion has been to invest in self-care. For me, self care is: a bath, journaling, listening to music, taking a solo drive, taking a nap or just sitting in silence. Through therapy, I've learned that I'm a person that recharges myself in isolation.
I've said it before that people in my culture are apprehensive to going to therapy. Majority of us grew up in a household where "family business is family business". We know that to also mean, "what goes on in this house, stays in this house". So, overcoming the learned behavior of not sharing my real feelings and real traumatic events that have lead me to this point, has been a challenge for me. I feel very uncomfortable. What's made this process effective is implementing the suggestions from my therapist to include: prioritizing self-care, saying "no" more often, working on my vulnerability in reading books, and expressing my real emotions in real-time without trying to act so strong and unaffected. Being forced to distance myself from people, by way of this pandemic, helped me to focus on my internal pain.
Solomon had to be separated from me as his mother and be placed somewhere he could get close, specialized attention and care in order to properly develop. The same way, in this quarantine, I've been separated from the care-free, versatile, fun part of life meeting up with my "friends" which was actually a distraction from working on my internal wholeness. Even though I have times where I want to eat at my favorite restaurants and travel internationally, I am exactly where I need to be in order to properly develop my character and process my pain.
In Solomon's development in the NICU, he only had to be closely monitored by professionals for 2 weeks, per their hospital standards. How long my process takes is greatly tied to my dedication, commitment, application of my resources and serious strides towards becoming vulnerable, reliable, patient and forgiving.
Solomon came into this world at 33 weeks, looking like we could take him home for good but really needed extensive internal observation. As a 33 year old woman, I look like I have it all together but really, the internal work is just beginning. I've accepted the challenge to get ready, both externally and internally. The journey continues...