Today I had an experience that made me very emotional. It would not seem like a big deal to most, but it was to me. For (what seems like) the 100th time, I left a family party because one or more of the children at the party were sick.
As Prematurity Awareness Month (November) comes to an end and Thanksgiving approaches, I wanted to share the top 10 things I'm thankful for as the parent of a preemie, as unconventional as they may be.
The blessings and sadness of the NICU still remain, but lying beneath the mental and physical exhaustion is the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction that comes along with being a NICU nurse, and really there is no greater job than this.
It took us long time to get pregnant with Molly. Not a long, long time, but long enough. Long enough to start to get used to the knot in my stomach every month as I counted the days and the symptoms, trying not to convince myself that every little twinge of nausea was a good sign.
In my mind, my son, Wes, is tall. He is kind and smart and full of sweet mischief. He loves to run. He runs everywhere, down the hall, down the street. Always with a sly grin. Like his dad. He has his dad's eyes and his perfect nose and his lips.
Babywearing helps us keep up with chores, work and life. 2014-10-07-DSC_8355.jpgWe can do almost anything while wearing our babies -- write, cook, work, walk -- anything that can be safely done with a baby on our chest or back.
Even though I was not working triage that day, I knew to follow every other labor nurse as they ran towards the room. As I made my way in, I saw a mother lying there, soaking in a pool of dark red blood.
Micah and Zachary needed my milk and my presence. I would not sacrifice either to make anyone, including myself, comfortable. Feeding tubes and bottles are not how I planned to nourish my babies, but the important thing is that they received my milk and all of my love.
Do not let anyone intimidate or shame you for being your baby's advocate. You are not annoying. You are not stupid. You are not going to jeopardize your baby's care. Your baby needs you to speak up for him/her, respectfully.
The one way I could nurture my fragile babies was by giving them my milk. Making milk was my one source of empowerment, when all of my motherly duties and responsibilities were taken away and given to clinicians.
The literature demonstrates that the safest, healthiest option for premature and vulnerable infants is an exclusive human-milk diet. Our fragile infants cannot wait around for more evidence, they need human milk now.
I didn't know that you would be the one to hold and rock my baby when I wasn't there. I didn't know you. I didn't know how intertwined our lives would become. I know you now. I'll never be able to think of my child's life without thinking of you.