This poem is not mine. But it is the best Iâ€™ve found to sum up the experience of prematurity. Every line is accurate.
It can be found at the end of the book â€œParenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journeyâ€ by Deborah Davis & Mara Stein (page 832).
~ Imagine ~
Imagine…the countdown to your due date taking on an urgency that could be a matter of life and death.
Imagine…all you have read about pregnancy and infancy becoming useless, and everything you believe about what to expect becoming irrelevant.
Imagine…the uncertainty and confusion, the fear and dread that replace happy anticipation.
Imagine…feeling your unborn baby kick and move — knowing that each day inside matters and hoping for a week, a day, an hour.
Imagine…enduring a medical crisis during a time that is meant to be challenging but still smooth and natural.
Imagine…bracing yourself for the worst, during a time that is supposed to be filled with the best.
Imagine…the losses. Imagine being robbed of the final months of pregnancy — that time of preparation, adjustment, and delicious anticipation.
Imagine…missing the birth you had planned, losing forever those precious moments after delivery.
Imagine…your tiny unfinished baby – perhaps blue and unresponsive – whisked away by strangers in scrubs.
Imagine…being left with empty arms and an aching heart.
Imagine…facing an overwhelming, unfamiliar, and frightening landscape – a foreign land – where humming machines loom over tiny babies.
Imagine…struggling to learn the new language of newborn intensive care, not comprehending what is happening.
Imagine…a flood of questions filling your mind, along with the terror asking them and hearing the answers.
Imagine…wanting to hope, being afraid to hope, longing to know what the future holds.
Imagine…wanting to protect your baby from pain and suffering in the NICU, knowing that your womb or your arms are far gentler than the embrace of warming beds and ventilators.
Imagine…aching to nurse a baby who is far to young or sick to suckle.
Imagine…longing to caress and cuddle, fearing your touch will hurt.
Imagine…holding your baby for the first time and realizing that your voice and touch are comforting.
Imagine…going home without your new baby, to an unfinished nursery and a life turned upside down.
Imagine…an uncertain future stretching before you, perhaps filled with doctors and evaluations and therapists.
Imagine…watching your baby’s breathing and not taking it for granted.
Imagine…measuring your baby’s feeding in millimeters and weight gain by the ounce.
Imagine…having to work so hard to help your baby grow and develop, and wanting so much to attain a sense of normalcy.
Imagine…feeling all alone, searching for a way to convey this experience to the people who care about you.
Imagine…being faced with an unexpected path, a journey that is very different from the one you had planned.
Now imagine watching your muppets giggle and bounce, realizing every second of stress was worth it. And, once more, my heart breaks for those who do not get to live out such a miraculous fairytale ending.
This photo was taken one year ago (hence the green maternity shirt). It is the only photo taken of me with the muppets basking in the glow of ignorance – completely unaware of the adventure I would soon experience.