Tomorrow, November 17th, is World Prematurity Day, a day focused on raising awareness about premature birth around the world. Before I got pregnant, I never imagined I’d end up giving birth at twenty-five weeks, but it happens far more often than anyone realizes. To learn more about World Prematurity Day, visit the World Prematurity Day Facebook Page, or follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #worldprematurityday.
One of the things I love most about writing this blog is hearing from other preemie mothers who hear their own stories in my words. To everyone who has ever written me since I started writing about my twins, please know that I so very much appreciate you taking the time to share a bit about your own journey. The more mothers I hear from, the clearer it becomes – preemie stories matter. All of them. No matter how easy or hard a course we had in the NICU, no matter how long we were there, these stories have become part of who we are as mothers, and they deserve to be honoured. And, of course, our amazing, tiny, warrior babies deserve to be honoured too, whether or not they are still living, whether or not they are meeting their milestones, whatever their situations look like. And no one will understand that like another preemie parent.
I recently received a message from a fellow twenty-five weeker twin mom, who is still in the NICU stage of her preemie mama journey. Some of her story overlapped with mine, some of it didn’t, but all of it resonated with me – the daily struggles of part-time hospital parenting, the longing to finally be finished with the NICU, the frustration over the obstacles still ahead, the worries about the future. I still don’t know if there’s ever anything to say that could truly be all that helpful, but I do believe that trying still matters. So I thought and thought and thought about what I wanted to say back, now that I’m here on the “other side”, with my beautiful, thriving eleven-month-but-really-only-seven-and-a-half-month-old babies, who bring me such immense joy on a daily basis.
What I wanted tell her – what I want to tell EVERY preemie mom with babies in the hospital – is this:
I’m sorry that you’re going through this. No one deserves it. It isn’t at all fair that this happened to you and your baby.
Everything (EVERY SINGLE THING) you’re feeling right now is normal and okay. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
This stage is temporary, no matter how permanent it feels. You will make it through. YOU. WILL. MAKE. IT. THROUGH.
What you went through will never leave you, the pain and loss you feel is part of your story now. But slowly, and with time, amazing things will start to happen as you watch your beautiful, perfect child grow. And those moments will start to balance out the heartbreaking ones. It will get easier.
There will continue to be bumps in the road, disappointing appointments, frustration, constant worries. But no matter what happens, your child will always be the incredible, awe-inspiring, gorgeous human being that you see everyday. What happened to them at their birth does not define who they are. Have faith in their abilities (but don’t beat yourself up for worrying – you are a mama now!)
Reach out if you can, if it feels right. It can seem so incredibly isolating to be a preemie mom, but there are so, so many of us out there who know how you feel and who are rooting for you.
Your baby is a warrior. Seriously. The strength of your child will blow your mind, time and time again.
You can totally do this. It will get better. It will absolutely be worth it.