10 Mar 2013

I Survived an Earthquake! Parents of Preemies Day 2013.

One June afternoon the earth moved, the ground shook and the building I sat in swayed. For several moments I thought I was losing my mind, and then I thought I must be having a stroke, and then the shaking stopped almost as sudden as it began. I slowly crept out of my room and looked in the hall. No one was there. I was alone. I walked down the stairs for fear of becoming trapped in the elevator if the shaking started again. I wasn’t sure I had it right…had I just sat through an earthquake…or was I really losing my marbles? Everything seemed pretty usual down on the main floor of the building I was living. Nothing was tipped over or broken, but then I began to come across a few people here and there who had experienced what I had. I was not alone. Others in the building had absolutely no clue what I was talking about and didn’t understand what I or some of the others had felt. Those of us who did experience this unusual moment immediately began to recount our experiences and compared our stories. We wanted others to know what we had actually just lived through.

Does this sound familiar? It’s comparable to the rocky experience we preemie parents go through when our babies show up too soon and then afterward when we want to share our experience with the world. When my premature babies came along, I wondered, How could this actually be happening?…then Why did this happen to our babies…and there were days I wondered, Did this really just happen? Is this my reality? I found it hard to connect with other parents in the NICU because many of them, through no fault of their own, were not able to stay close by and so their babies were there with the nursing staff, while I was there pretty much every day chatting with our nurses, hanging out in quiet areas of the hospital and willing my babies to get better and be well enough to come home. I did find some great friends in the NICU— two other preemie mommies—whose babies were going through very similar struggles as our twins.  The three of us mothers were also there longer than many who came after us and left before us, so we shared that common bond as well. We “got” each others’ emotions; we could read each others’ faces…and minds. We knew each other’s deepest fears, without having to say a word. We were a mini support network without a label.

Eventually the three of our families made our way out of the NICU, each of us having experienced very trying times, although the reasons and exact experiences that led us to the NICU were very different. The main bond was the experience in the NICU—the emotions, the fears and finally the triumphs. I am glad to be able to call these two awesome moms my friends. 

Little did I know that day of the earthquake, June 23, 2010, which was almost two months into our twins’ NICU stay that I would be writing about it to compare the experience to the life changing experience of a NICU stay. I also didn’t know how much opportunity would arise after we came home from the NICU. I write this blog not only for parents of preemies and multiples, but for others who are curious or just want to know more about how to help families with premature children and how to identify with their unique needs.  After having 3 preemie kids my life was forever changed and I wanted to help parents going through the same preterm birth experience. The most common thing I hear from other parents of preemie babies is they compare it to a rollercoaster or some kind of a natural disaster—a tornado, a tsunami…an earthquake. It’s a life altering experience that can include the scariest moments of a person’s life. Ever.

Today is the 2nd Annual Parents of Preemies Day and I am happy to wish all my preemie parent friends a wonderful day and a virtual high five for kicking adversity in the butt and fighting through it all in the name of your babies. It’s a huge challenge, which in my case has been the greatest challenge of my life! Parents of preemies deserve a pat on the back and congratulations for making it through and for building a support network around themselves for when the going gets tough even after leaving the NICU because discharging a baby home doesn’t always mean parents have a well-baby at home.

So, to all the Parents of Preemies, I wish you much happiness today and for the future of your amazing families. 

Happy Parents of Preemies Day 2013!

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