On May 4, 2014, I will be celebrating Parents of Preemies Day, which recognizes the courage and commitment it takes to stay strong and resilient when a premature birth turns a family's world upside down. Parents of Preemies Day is powered by Graham's Foundation, which is an incredible organization and resource for parents going through the journey of prematurity.
This means that May 4, 2014, is a special day to celebrate those who have been impacted by prematurity. This is a day to celebrate moms and dads who have babies who entered the world early; parents who spent countless days and nights in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU); and families who worry about their preemie's weight and efforts to reach key developmental milestones. It is a day to honor those of us who are homebound during flu and RSV season -- and who come out of the bubble with enthusiasm, and yet, anxiety concerning germs and illness.
This is also a day to celebrate grandparents of preemies -- those who stood by their children during a difficult pregnancy; held their hand in the hospital; took care of household chores while mothers and fathers of preemies were visiting the NICU; and cried with preemie parents in both good times and bad.
And, it is a day to celebrate friends of prematurity -- those who reached out by phone or in-person with kind thoughts and prayers -- and those who sent care packages and meals.
As a mother of a micro-preemie, I've gone through a lot of ups and downs during pregnancy, hospitalization, and my baby's NICU stay. There were times when my baby's survival was very uncertain -- and the whole word was collapsing all around me.
During my pregnancy, one obstetrician-gynecologist informed me when I was approaching the final date to have an abortion, which was not of interest to me.
In the hospital prior to delivery, someone talked about my baby using phrases that involved the word, "if," suggesting that may baby may not be viable.
And, during our 67-day NICU stay, I remember feeling like half of a whole. Coming home without my baby was rough. There were many nights when I cried myself to sleep.
Despite all of the difficulties I encountered, many of these challenges seem long ago. My baby, Emily, is now 15 months old (12 months adjusted). She has been home for about 13 months and I have enjoyed every minute of it. She just started to couch surf and walk with the help of a walker. I am proud of her each and every day.
In honor of Parents of Preemies Day, I'd like to send a round of applause to some very important people.
A Round of Applause to My Husband
I am thankful for my wonderful husband, Craig, who helped me through my pregnancy, hospitalization, and our NICU stay. He understands that Emily is not suitable for daycare and works hard so that I can stay home to care for her.
A Round of Applause to Our Parents
I feel blessed to have supportive parents. My mom flew cross country to be with me during my hospitalization, c-section, and recovery. She drove me to and from the NICU, did our laundry, cooked our meals, and even took care of our dog, Bentley. My loving stepdad, John, has been supportive every step of the way.
I am also thankful for my in-laws, Ginny and Sonny, who provided Craig with moral support throughout my pregnancy. They also visited Emily, Craig, and I in the NICU. And, they continue to offer advice, support, and prayers now that she is home.
A Round of Applause for Our Family, Friends, and Healthcare Professionals
In addition, I appreciate family and friends who provided us with comfort and support through this difficult journey. (You know who you are!) And, I am grateful for the doctors, nurses, and the multiple therapists who have helped Emily get where she is today.
Parents of Preemies Day Resources
Do you want to learn more about Parents of Preemies Day? Check out these helpful resources:
- Parents of Preemies Day: http://www.parentsofpreemiesday.org
- Graham's Foundation: http://www.grahamsfoundation.org
- More Information About My Preemie Story: www.preemieblessings.com/about
Disclosure: I currently serve as a Graham's Foundation parent resource volunteer.