Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Parents of Preemie's Day Guest Post- Rachel and Bella's story

I continue to be so blessed to meet other Preemie mamas that offer their support, advice, and empathy.  I'm honored to share today's  post from another micro preemie mom.  In the preemie world there is nothing better than a supportive mom that is a few months or years ahead of you in your journey.  Rachel is one of those supportive moms for me.  I find comfort in our similar stories and a peek into the future with her stories and photos of her beautiful Isabella.   

Rachel's Parents of Preemies Day Post
I’m lying in a hospital bed shaking. I shouldn’t be here. It’s Tuesday and I’m supposed to be at work. People are coming and going from my room, asking questions and writing on their clipboards. I think I can see the pity in their eyes as they try to force a smile while they gather my information.  So, you are 20 weeks and 5 days pregnant? A muffled sob escapes, and I just nod yes.  Too many questions are racing through my mind and I can’t concentrate on what anyone is saying. I try to breath in peace and hope, and exhale the fear that is paralyzing my body. I feel a small kick as my sweet girl reminds me she’s still here and  I reach down to rub my belly which has grown just large enough to require maternity pants. Oh my god; is my baby going to survive?

Nineteen days of fear, bargaining, begging, surrender, and hope ensue. Day after day of magnesium and ultrasounds and meeting with neonatologists who say it’s nearly impossible. And then late in the evening of May 2nd my body is cut open and a child is taken from me. She is too small, but she makes a sound, a pathetic cry, perhaps her way of letting us know that she is here and she is ready to fight.  
Isabella spent 107 days in the NICU. She cried silently through painful procedures. She endured tubes and wires and needle sticks instead of floating happily in a warm and peaceful womb.  Every time she needed blood, her feedings were stopped. She was re-intubated 5 times. Her weight dropped to just 530 grams. And the worst part –she waited 29 days to be held.  Sometimes, during her most difficult times in the NICU, I would wish we could trade places so that I could take away all her pain and suffering.
While I never, ever wanted this to be our story, I now realize I have been given a gift I call “preemie mom”, and I am thankful for this incredibly painful and equally blessed experience. I am so lucky. I have learned a level of patience that I didn’t even know existed. And I have witnessed the strength of the tiniest human being. I have discovered that love is bigger than fear and faith requires a belief in God. I have been given the opportunity to practice letting go of the little things and I have found that worry is wasted time. I have been profoundly changed by a one pound child.  Nothing is taken for granted. Breathing is celebrated. Eating is a monumental achievement.

 2 week old Baby Bella

Today, when I sit and watch my child play, I know I am witnessing a miracle. My heart sometimes feels like it will explode from the sheer magnitude of joy and wonder as I watch my daughter do the things I was warned she may never do.  Listening to her footsteps as she pushes her baby stroller through the house I am reminded of the simple things in life. I take the time to stop and enjoy the moment. I know how close I was to never having this experience.  I’m pretty sure she does not understand just how amazing she is. But I know. I cannot erase the images of her birth, nor will I ever forget the struggle for her to just simply survive.  

Bella at 1 year old

Bella at 2 years old!

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.  

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