Tomorrow is a day near and dear to this Preemie Mama's little heart. It's World Prematurity Awareness Day and honestly, even 2.5 years out from the start of our NICU Journey, I can tell you that prematurity still sucks. A lot. Yes, my preemie doesn't look like this anymore:
Tomorrow's awareness isn't so much for the NICU families, persay, because we'll go on living our lives like we always do ...hyper-aware of the miracles we call our children. It's really a day for those who haven't ever experienced life in the NICU, for them to peek into our little world, our club, and hopefully be inspired to join us in advocating for the tiniest of voices, like Bea's once was:
Maybe because of our stories, they'll donate money to agencies like March of Dimes. Money that would be used to one day, hopefully, find and eliminate the causes of prematurity. Money that supports families like ours as they fight for their children, who are fighting for their lives.
I've been hemming and hawing about what to say today, about tomorrow. But really, what's left to say? You already know our story. You know that Beatrice Kate was teeny, teeny tiny once. That she was hooked to machines that breathed for her when she couldn't do it herself, tubes that fed her when her mouth wasn't ready to latch, and wires that told us that it was all in working order. You know that for the first six weeks of her life, her home wasn't in our home; but in a cold and quiet hospital. You know that having a preemie was the single biggest stressor to our marriage, to my sanity. It nearly drove Casey and I apart, and it very, very nearly drove me into a mental hospital.
But then, it got better and everyday since has become a gift. And Bea? She's everything that every doctor and nurse told us she may never be. She's brilliant and she's beautiful and has no outwardly showing long-lasting effects of arriving three months too early.
I think more than anything, I want other families who are just starting their NICU journey to know this: It can be great, because really? Even in the midst of the worst temper tantrums (which there are plenty) and sleepless nights (ditto), two and a half years later, it's never very far from the front of my mind that it could have been so much different. Our story has a happy ending, eventually. Others aren't so lucky.
Having a preemie was hard. So hard. We were told to adjust our expectations and we did. But turns out, we didn't need to. Because of all the diagnosis given to Bea at birth, the doctors expectation that she wouldn't be a "normal" baby were spot on. She's anything but normal, and but that has nothing to do with prematurity: