adjective, pro·found·er, pro·found·est.
1. penetrating or entering deeply into subjects of thought or knowledge; having deep insight or understanding: a profound thinker.
2. originating in or penetrating to the depths of one's being; profound grief.
3. being or going far beneath what is superficial, external, or obvious: profound insight.
4. of deep meaning; of great and broadly inclusive significance: a profound book.
5. pervasive or intense; thorough; complete: a profound silence.
As you all know, I have a lot to say about prematurity. But every year, I get hung up on this day…Parents of Preemies Day. I think it’s the semantics of it all…are we celebrating that we are proud of our preemies or proud of ourselves as parents of preemies or both? I mean, I’m always proud of Jack and how he has survived and handled all that has been thrown his way because of his premature birth. But, as I’ve said many times, I struggle because I don’t always feel “proud” of my role in Jack’s prematurity. Not for any reason relating to him but because I will forever and always feel guilty about his early birth. I shouldn’t, but I will. The guilt has lessened some, but I don’t think it will every go away completely (From Guilty to Grateful). Like I said, I think it’s the semantics…the word proud. I definitely feel that preemie parents deserve a special day, that is for sure! In fact, I think parents of preemies deserve a special cruise! Or a special all-inclusive vacation! Anyway, it’s obviously a personal issue of mine; I’m super proud of all the parents of preemies that I know. (I wrote to/about them last year: Dear Preemie Parents)
So as I pushed the elevator button for the dreaded 7th floor to go back to the NICU where Jack spent his first months of life (to help celebrate and support new preemie/NICU parents), I was wracking my brain for something to write about today. For as much as I struggle with the day, I can’t let it pass by without writing something (or posting a Parents of Preemies Day button to my FB wall). I didn’t think I would write about being proud (of myself), but a comment that was left on my blog got me thinking. She wrote:
“I don't know how a person can ever "catch up" to such a scary, uncontrolled, profound experience. As gorgeous as that little face is, it's not separate from the experience of his birth, I imagine, a blessing and a nightmare all at the same time. But, oh, that sweet boy and beautiful family that came out of that battle...in that, you are so lucky, no matter what package it came in. I felt like your header told an entire story before I even read your post! Thank you so much for sharing!!” Brie Latini (from http://www.abreezylife.com/)
I have never actually met Brie, but she said something that caused me to think a little differently about being proud of myself. That word, profound, is probably the best word I’ve ever heard used to describe my experience as a parent of a preemie. I’ve used words like traumatizing and miracle and sad and overjoyed and life-changing and life-threatening. But, Brie, she picked the word that I think I will forever use to describe this journey in one word (if I’m ever asked to do so). A few years ago, profound may not have been the word. But it is now. And experiencing something so profound and now consciously living my life based on this profound experience has made me proud. I know I am not the same person I was before Jack was born. Some might not like the new me, but I do. Some might think that allowing something as profound as prematurity to impact the rest of my life is somehow wrong or inappropriate. I wholeheartedly disagree. Parenting a preemie has allowed me to let go of a lot of expectations about what life is supposed to be like and has provided me the opportunity to respond to people in a different way than I ever thought I would, especially others experiencing their own profound events. So many don’t know the right thing to say or do when the profound happens (particularly if the profound is traumatic in nature). Many mean well, but don’t get it quite right. (I'm sure we've all read those "What not to say to preemie parents" posts. One of my favorites is by Jessi, at Life with Jack.) Profound, traumatic events make so many uncomfortable, that they will say or do things to make themselves feel better and in turn, make the person in need of support feel worse. I know I was probably guilty of this more than once. But, because of my own profound experience, I’ve learned to be ever mindful of what I say and do, particularly to parents walking along paths similar to my own journey. Do I always get it right? Of course not. Even today, at our Parents of Preemies/NICU Parents day event, a family arrived and my first reaction was to say, “Hello! How are you?” and I immediately knew that was not exactly the right question to ask a family of a 5-day old 27-weeker. So I made sure to be more deliberate and mindful as I offered my support and asked if there was anything I could do to help. I remember being in that same position…but I don’t know if I can even now articulate what would be the best or right thing to say. But I do know, that listening and supporting (not downplaying or comparing, two things that always made me feel worse instead of better) are two “methods” that I am proud to be working on in order to be there for the newest members of our club (that no one ever asks to join). You can read more about this club at My Little Virginia.
|This is my friend Sara's little girl, Aubree!|