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I'll Be the Only Mom Not Crying at Pre-school Graduation

Photograph by Twenty20

My second child is graduating pre-school this spring. Next year, he'll be entering Kindergarten. I know, I know. You're thinking, "Your baby is growing up!" Most moms get teary at this revelation. In fact, the other moms in my son's class gets glassy-eyed when we talk about the end of pre-school. Especially those moms, like me, whose youngest child is the upcoming pre-school graduate.

I get it: Time is going too fast, those baby years are behind me, and I'll never smell that baby smell again.

But you know what? I'm happy about that. I'm ready for my son to start the next phase of his life. While every other mother will be crying at this year's pre-school graduation, I'll be the only one who isn't.

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Both of my kids were preemies. I went into preterm labor with my first son at 32 weeks, giving birth to him at 34 weeks. He spent 12 terrifying days in the NICU before coming home. And the one who's graduating this year? I went into preterm labor with him at 28 weeks. The first neonatal doctor I met with, after I was admitted to the hospital, did an exam and told me, "There's a chance he might be able to go to college."

I didn't even understand what he was saying to me. Of course he would go to college. My husband and I both graduated from college—and from graduate school to boot. Why would there be a question about whether or not our kid would follow our path?

The uncertainty, the waiting, the fears that kept me up throughout the night. Doctors weren't sure if my baby would live and, if he did, they didn't expect him to have a normal life.

So my husband explained it to me: The doctor was telling me that our child would have some sort of disability. But, depending on how long I could forestall labor, I might pass a developmental milestone or two, and there was a chance our child could live a normal life.

I spent three weeks in the hospital on bedrest, unable to sit up fully in the hospital bed for fear of bringing on labor. It was the scariest time of my entire life. The uncertainty, the waiting, the fears that kept me up throughout the night. Doctors weren't sure if my baby would live and, if he did, they didn't expect him to have a normal life.

He could be brain-damaged, he could be blind, he could be deaf.

I gave birth at 31 weeks, and my son was immediately shuttled off to the NICU. He spent the first 33 days of his life in a plastic bassinet, in a room filled with other premature babies.

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We were the lucky ones. My son wasn't brain damaged, he wasn't blind, he wasn't deaf. And four years later, he's a healthy, happy child.

So, no. I won't be crying at his pre-school graduation. I'll be cheering the fact that my little survivor made it through, is happy and healthy, and, yes, growing up way too fast.

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