If you have read my previous blog posts you may have noticed I mentioned my eldest son Jack spent 40 days in NICU after being born 10 weeks and 2 days prematurely. He is now a flourishing 14 month old but I often think back to that time and how terrifying it was. I’ve decided to share this poem I read at my son’s Naming Ceremony which I found on the internet but tweaked to apply to our experience. The details of everything we went through can sometimes be too overwhelming to explain, but this poem sums it up in another way.
Welcome to Holland
I am often asked to describe the experience of having a premature baby—to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this:
When you are going to have a baby it’s like planning a fabulous trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make wonderful plans. The Colosseum, Michaelangelo’s David, the gondolas in Venice. You may even learn phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting!
After months of eager anticipation, You find out you can go on holiday early! On auto-pilot yourself you pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later the plane lands. The flight attendant comes and says, ‘Welcome to Holland.’
‘Holland?’ you say. ‘What do you mean Holland?’ ‘I signed up for Italy.’ ‘All my life I dreamed of going to Italy.’
But there’s been a change of flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy. Less flashy than Italy and at some parts scarier than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath,
you look around and notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is coming and going from Italy. And they’re bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. Everyone around you who has been on holiday to Italy brag about how great it was to take in those first moments of Italy when you step off the plane, the moment you looked forward more than they could imagine.
But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, You may never be free to enjoy the very life changing steps of your journey, that they couldn’t imagine going through and that’s why going to Holland may not have been planned but you wouldn’t change it for the world.