Destroy came tearing around the living room corner, slip-n-sliding face first into the kitchen island – a less coordinated Risky Business move across the hardwood floors in Batman socks and Avengers Underoos.
There was a pause, as my little superhero decided whether to resume his reign of destruction or scream bloody murder. “I’m ok!” he decided before taking off again toward the certain doom of a Lego strewn floor.
Fear and fragility were the furthest things from my mind.
“That one is yours,” I informed Radioactive Dad. “Definitely yours.”
“Hey, they came out of you,” Jon retorted.
“I never even saw them the day they were born. They were covered in tubes. And I was high as a kite on whatever the anesthesiologist was pumping through my tubes. Totally could have swapped them out for substitute muppets.”
It’s been four and a half years since the muppets’ terrifyingly early arrival. The conquering heroes surpassed all initial expectations.
THEY BOTH POOP IN THE POTTY!
Also related, today is World Prematurity Day.
Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon. And premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death each year – killing one tiny one every 30 seconds. To put that in perspective, Search and Destroy are precisely 32 seconds apart.
According to the March of Dimes, after rising by 36 percent over 25 years (1981-2006), our country’s preterm birth rate has declined by 11 percent over the last 7 years. Yet our nation’s preterm birth rate remains at 11.4 percent – still higher than most developed nations.
We are improving. In the U.S., 1 in 9 children is premature, earning a “C” grade on the 2014 premature birth report card. But that fateful Memorial Day back in 2010, my boys were 1 in 8.
I wish no one admission to this sad society. Because the stats are too sterile. This is prematurity.
I am prematurity.
I am the chart that reads 0/3 – three pregnancies with no children.
I am the tears on a Labor and Delivery hospital room bed.
I am the spikes on a contraction monitor.
I am the sadness in the doctor’s eyes at 22 weeks.
I am the steroid shots at 24 weeks.
I am the crowded operating room at 27 weeks.
I am the NICU.
I am the isolette.
I am the tiny child swaddled in wires.
I am the parents’ fear.
I am the roller coaster of emotions.
I am the dance of two steps forward, one step back.
I am the ABCs – apnea and bradycardia.
I am the pulse-ox monitor.
I am the alarms sounding desats.
I am the oxygen.
I am the feeding tubes.
I am the stimulation.
I am the new normal.
I am the haze and fog.
I am the time in between – after birth but before my due date.
I am the parents.
I am the nurses and doctors.
I am the family and friends.
I am the miracle of a tiny breath.
I am the miracle of life.
I am a miracle.
I am prematurity.
I am aware.
We are hope.