Becoming a parent of a preemie transformed who I am at my core. Seemingly everything was taken out of my control; my impossibly small child was surgically removed from me 15 weeks early. We had a month of bed-rest to prepare but no amount of preparation was sufficient for our impending journey. It was like being catapulted into the ocean. First we had to learn how to swim, but for a long time we were often just treading water. Eventually we found our vessel. Its was the same big ocean, just a different vessel.
In the days leading up to Virginia's birth I was emotionally numb, I was scared, and I had enormous amount of guilt. Everything changed within minutes of her birth. Amidst a tense operating room a wonderfully sweet nurse placed plastic identification bands around our wrists, our first symbol of parenthood. She tightened those wristbands and let us know that we had a feisty baby that was kicking all the way to the resuscitation room. At 650 grams Virginia couldn't cry, she couldn't breathe on her own, and her eyelids were fused shut, yet she kicked and kicked and kicked. From that moment I was so proud to be that baby's mom. I didn't even know yet whether that baby was a boy or girl. I hadn't yet seen her face. I hadn't touched her, but I was so proud. So proud that she was fighting. She was fighting a fight that I couldn't fight for her. She was fighting and I needed to be her coach in the corner. I needed to advocate for her, pray for her, and support her. I needed to pump, needed to be strong, and needed to be positive.
The intense need for us to do everything we could to advocate for and support our girl has not changed. Our vessel has been on a different course than what we ever imagined but it has allowed us to see the world in a new way. I'm proud of the way that we have sailed our ship so far. Im still most proud of our first mate. She kicked and kicked hard enough to swim with us until we found our way.
On March 10th we will join many other parent's of preemies to celebrate our journeys and to be proud. Grahams Foundation is bringing the preemie community together for their second annual Parent's of Preemies Day to honor the 13 million people each year that become parents too soon. It is a day to honor the parents that are reluctantly sent on this journey, yet gather the strength, courage and commitment to parent these tiny babies. Please visit their facebook page for more information about events in your area and on the web and join their worldwide twitter chat on March 10th from 2-3pm EST by using the hashtag #parentsofpreemiesday . Register for the twitter event here to be entered to win a prize pack.