Monday, November 18, 2013

World Prematurity Awareness Day

When you are a NICU parent, soon-to-be, current or former, you pay attention to the weird holidays, like World Prematurity Awareness Day, because to you, these are not weird at all.  These are days we get to celebrate the challenges we have been through in our lives.  These are days we get to take a few extra minutes and remember. 

We remember where we were when we first learned we were pregnant. We remember the day like it was yesterday because for many of us this was something that we had worked for and waited for and was finally given to us in a glowing moment of joy.

That glowing moment was followed up by an amazing ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. We all remember waiting in anticipation to hear the one thing we pray for in the first trimester.... the heartbeat. We all remember welling up with pride and joy because we had hit the first milestone of a pregnancy. We had brought a viable life form forward.

Then we all remember the day that our world came crashing down!

For some, this day came with progressive testing, ultrasounds, doctors visits and long hours waiting. For others, like myself, this day was sudden and unexpected. It was thrust upon us like a cruel joke that someone refused to take back. Many call this deliver day, some call it the day their bodies failed them.

I don't see it either way. I see it as the day medicine really proved itself. I see it as the day my family grew by hundreds and thousands, not only by one. Because on my delivery days, I joined the ranks of NICU mom. I learned what it was like to be a nurse, a caregiver and a mother. I learned how to lean on other parents for support. Parents who were experiencing the same feelings and waiting for the same milestones as me. Parents who used terms like inchstones, intubation, ventilator, kangaroo care, transfusions.... parents who measured successes by ounces gained and mm grown. These parents become your family. In addition, you soon learn to love the other NICU moms you were blessed with when your world supposedly came crashing down. We find solace in the nurses who helped us every day to keep these tiny figures alive. They cheered with us, cried with us, and slapped us upside the head when we needed it. And we trusted them because they had been there before and they would be there again! 

So on this amazing holiday that not many recognize but all of my fellow NICU parents share, be proud of your experiences. They have made us who we are! They have brought us together. They have bonded us like no other experience can.

Being a NICU mom is something I am proud of. I am proud that medicine is so advanced that even when my body fails me, medicine did not. And because of that I have two healthy thriving beautiful girls!

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