Little lives are at stake.
Today, Nov. 17, is the Fight For Preemies, 7th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day. The March of Dimes asked bloggers from around the world to post their story on the same day to draw attention to the crisis of premature birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation) and its toll on babies and families.
I never thought I’d end up a mommy blogger. A world-famous Newbery Medal recipient, sure, but it instead appears my writing talents have headed down the road less traveled. One of my girlfriends started blogging about the random stories of mommyhood shortly after I found out I was pregnant.
“I think I’ll start a blog,” I decided one afternoon. I signed myself up on WordPress and there my page template sat for several weeks. No magical article-writing elves appeared to tell my story, so I sat myself down and announced to the global online community that Double Trouble was coming to town. I figured this blog would be a single source location for family and friends. I could sporadically post clever little anecdotes and event photos.
On April 13, I posted an article shouting from the rooftops that I was officialy having a normal pregnancy. Two weeks later, my world turned upside down. I started writing more and more – detailing and journaling my experience on bedrest and ultimately as an ante-partum patient in the hospital as I prayed for healthy twins.
Jon and I became parents on May 28, 2010. Our precious muppets were born weighing 2 pounds 3 ounces and 2 pounds 2 ounces. I held Search in my arms for no more than 10 seconds after his birth. I watched Destroy get wheeled out of the OR wrought with tubes and encased in a plastic incubator. They were born 12 weeks too soon. And then I passed out.
I didn’t get to meet my muppets the day they were born. I spent hours shivering uncontrollably in a recovery room – demanding water from a nurse who tried my patience to its last nerve by insisting on following medical protocol instead of catering to my thirsty whims. Five hours after they were born, Jon was indoctrinated into life as a NICU parent. He was crying when he came back, but he reported they were doing amazingly well.
The next day, I learned why people believe in love at first sight. Our nurses and doctors were cautiously optimistic. The muppets were all I could think about. So throughout the next 10 weeks, I took to the Web – sharing my thoughts, feelings and fears to anyone who may happen upon here. As I talked to people and shared our story, it seemed everyone knew someone who was premature. Suddenly, my new normal was “preemie parenthood.” Term babies seemed jumbo and odd.
I found the March of Dimes website accidentally as I scoured the Internet looking for any and all information on the hospital jargon being thrown at me. I became a mother on a mission. My boys were coming home healthy if I had to get a medical degree to do it.
The NICU staff laughed. “When you leave here, we’ll be sending you home part parent, part nurse.”
I heard the story of one man born in 1932; there was little to no hope for him. Doctors told his mother to go home and put him in a shoebox in the oven to keep his temperature up. I had the same reaction you are all having now. But today, there aren’t these amazing miracle stories. And that’s because of the development of medical technology and scientific know-how. At no point was the word “if” ever uttered when discussing the muppets future.
I never thought prematurity would be the cause I’d get behind. I did everything I was supposed to, but fate/humanity had other ideas and life isn’t fair. My body was broken but my boys are fighters.
Next week the muppets will be six months old; they’ve been home more than four of those. They’re laughing now and it’s hard to remember how tiny they truly were when we first started our journey home.
I’m proud to join the Fight for Preemies. I’m proud to be a preemie-parent. And I’m proud to be the mom to such nifty NICU grads. Next week our family will return to the hospital for a well-check with our pediatrician, and I expect at least one of the boys to tip the scales at 15 pounds – a far cry from tiny two pounders.
Maybe in 30 years, research will have come so far that no worry lines will ever develop on the forehead of a parent who meets a child born too soon. And I’ll keep blogging about my boys. Here’s to the banality of childhood memories – times two.
The March of Dimes asked us to blog for a baby we love today. I write for my muppets. Because in their words, “We need to fight ― because babies shouldn’t have to.”
But if any literary agents are out there – I’m still gunning for that Newbery. Just sayin’…