Sunday, March 10th, is the 2nd annual Parents of Preemies Day! I didn’t necessarily “celebrate” it last year because I wasn’t exactly proud of myself as a parent, particularly because I was still processing the guilt of my body’s failure to stay pregnant and grieving the loss of a healthy start for my little boy. This year, while I still don’t know if I’m yet ready to celebrate myself, I am certainly willing to celebrate preemie parents.
Dear Preemie Parents:
Thank you! Those two words cannot express the depth of gratitude I feel toward this group that welcomed me to the “club” that no one wants to or expects to join. I have connected with so many of you, in real life and online, and I know with absolute certainty, that I would not have survived these last two+ years without you all. When my little boy was still in the NICU, I often wished that another preemie mom would pull up a chair and sit with me and share her story. Or listen to mine. Even though I have a very large, supportive family, there were things I was feeling and experiencing that many of them just couldn’t comprehend. Nor could I. While I was sitting by Jack’s isolette or finishing up another tube feeding at home, I just wished to sit with a mom who knew exactly what I was going through. Someone who wouldn’t say, “Oh, he’ll be fine,” especially when we didn't know if he would be. But would say, “It’s okay to be sad and scared and feel overwhelmed.” It was such an isolating time, because of the need to keep Jack healthy, but also because of my feeling as though no one understood what I was going through as a new mom to an amazing, yet fragile little boy. As I started to venture out into the “world” of prematurity, the connections I made and support I received felt like a balm to my tortured soul. It is a special world, indeed.
Thank you! Some of you probably know that you helped me, but others may not. I hope I don’t forget anyone with my scattered mommy brain, but if I do, know that my hurting heart has not forgotten. To the one who let me know that even though what we had experienced wasn’t “normal,” my reactions and my feelings were in fact typical of a preemie parent - Jessi at Life with Jack. To the one who helped relieve my self-induced pressure to move on and let me know that there was no need to get over it – Tatum at Ain’t No Rollercoaster. To the one who came to the hospital to let me know that we might just be okay and leaving the NICU to get a cup of coffee or tea, was in fact, necessary – Jess (aka Adam’s mom). To the one who informed me of all I needed to know about our future with prematurity – Amanda at Understanding Prematurity. And when the professional therapist just wasn’t “getting it” and I was on my way to really losing it, you were the one who offered me a life-line and a support group that may have just saved me (and is totally worth the 2 hour round trip each month) – Melissa at The Preemie Life. To the one who wrote a book just for me. It was just for me, right? Okay, so maybe it wasn’t just for me, but it sure feels like it every time I read it – Kasey, author of Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life and Motherhood. To the one who helped me find a monitor for Jack, when I just wasn’t ready to give up that safety-net just yet – Michelle at Busy Breathers LLC. To the first of many who created online groups that offered support and understanding during those long days of RSV isolation – Tammy. To the one who offered toys and clothes for our boy, when finances were rough – Amy. To the ones who allowed us to share our story – Jackie at The Saving Grace Project and Deb at Preemie World. To the one who allowed me to celebrate my husband – Joel at Papas of Preemies. To those who taught me about loss and grieving, about hope and moving forward – Jana at Keeping up with the Kimmels and Heather at The Spohrs are Multiplying. To the ones whom I’ve never met, yet could still connect with through our shared, yet unique journeys – Kristen, Candie, and Sonja. And, finally, to the newer ones, who are allowing me to support them, and in doing so, helping me to heal at the same time – Jenna, Christi, Dana, Leslie, Jessie. To all of you. Thank you all for letting me know that its okay, and absolutely necessary, to talk about the realities of prematurity.
Happy Parent of Preemies Day to YOU!
|From two very proud preemie parents, Heather & Jeff|