Monday, November 14, 2011

World Prematurity Day

Can you spot the preemie?
A brand new life-style change has happened to me this year. I don’t carry hand sanitizer everywhere I go. I have even actually let Bronson eat food directly off of restaurant tables without agonizing the exact moment that he would become sick. last year One of the many reasons that I am more relaxed about germs is because my son underwent a life changing ear surgery this past year, but I also feel that the more time goes by the more that the fear of sickness and yes even death becomes more disconnected from my worries. I have to admit that until Bronson was nearly 3 years old I constantly fretted over when the shoe would drop. I worried constantly that he might acquire some unknown germ that would land him in the hospital. When doctors would even suggest that something might be wrong with him I wanted to wrap my arms and legs around him and hold him for dear life. I lived in a constant state of agony of not wanting him to get something, but not wanting him to grow up in a bubble.

I know that some of my friends felt it was funny to refer to me as a “germ-freak” or “overly-protective;” however until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes these remarks are only hurtful. Having your child immediately whisked away from the delivery room and spending the next 60 days in the NICU makes an impact so deep in your heart that it truly takes years before the dull ache of that loss can be dealt with without bringing one to their knees. I believe that my year has come. I am not for minute going to tell you that I am over my experience in the NICU. Smells, words, and even some sights can bring me directly back to certain moments of time; however, it is easier. God has provided me with such great mercy and allowed me to use this as part of my testimony to help others that are experiencing the NICU.

Mere weeks ago I received a text that literally shook me to the core. My good friend’s cousin was being admitted to the hospital at barely 25 weeks pregnant. A million emotions went through my body and realizing that I was incapable of doing any tangible thing, I began to pray. I asked my other friends to join me in this prayer circle and the positive news that we began to receive kept pouring in. We realized a day later that the gestation was actually 27 weeks and that the water breaking was actually a slow leak. This remarkable woman was able to keep her little baby in for an additional nearly 7 weeks and gave birth at 33 weeks to a VERY healthy preemie. Her little girl is doing amazingly well and expected to spend about 2 weeks in the NICU. We prayed for no time in the NICU, but God had different plans. I believe firmly that God has provided an opportunity for this mommy to join the ranks so that she can offer her testimony to others that might experience the fear, shock, and unknown while being on bed-rest and later in the NICU.

Bronson’s story is one of encouragement. Despite his hard start into this world, we are beyond blessed that our 2 pound miracle has defied all odds and has no long-term effects from his prematurity. Not all parents are as lucky. Some of Bronson’s “pod-mates” suffer from long-term breathing problems, learning disabilities, and even in some cases severe medical and physical disabilities. Not a single one of these mommies would trade their kiddos for the world, but parenting a child with disabilities does have many aspects that no one thinks about when they share the happy news of their pregnancies. I choose to be an advocate and supporter of organizations such as March of Dimes so that fewer parents have to leave the hospital without their baby. I love the doctors and nurses at Sacred Heart, but our mission is not to provide them with job security.

I recently had a friend from high school ask me how she could help support the mission. There are several ways that you can help:

  • Make a craft or card for parents in the NICU (We do NICU Christmas bags every year and deliver them to the parents in the NICU and also to the moms on bed rest)
  • Raise awareness by sharing your story. Healthy full-term stories are also encouraged. “Every baby has a story.”
  • Personally ask your friend that has experienced the NICU, loss, or prematurity what you can do. Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear.
  • Most importantly, pray daily for the parents of the NICU or the women laying in hospitals all over the world on bed rest.
I am very thankful that God is providing me with peace. I will continue to use this experience to spread the mission of March of Dimes and to advocate for prenatal care. I am also thankful that I chose to be faithful to God and let my son out of his bubble just slightly.