Today is Prematurity Awareness Day! I have my purple on! (That is the official color for prematurity awareness, I guess because it is the March of Dimes logo color.) And I have to post about something! I wrote out our story last year, which was actually extremely therapeutic for me, so I'll go a different route this year. (I have a couple ideas bouncing around in my head, we'll see what ends up on the page...)
Guess what? I am including a picture. :) For a long time I skipped over this one when it came to printing or posting pictures, because it has a big ol' ventilator screen and a nurses head taking up most of the picture. But you know what? That is the NICU. That is what it was like the first time I held my baby: dependent on equipment and highly trained professionals. And then I realized something else about this picture that I can't believe I didn't notice before: Noah is looking up at me (or at least trying to). Even with equipment and a little body that isn't supposed to have to be working on its own yet and a mommy who wishes her body would have worked how it was supposed to and everything else that comes with prematurity, there is that love and bond between mother and child that nothing can take away. (Now I cry pretty much every time I look at it.)
As for the whole idea of awareness... I am aware of prematurity every day. Every time I look at Noah and realize there is nothing about him that shows that he was a preemie. Every time I see that teeny tiny diaper that was too big for him that I have framed to remind us how far he has come, and that teeny tiny hat that doesn't even fit his stuffed animals. Every time I see the scars on his hands and feet from being poked and prodded. Every time I feel myself getting frustrated at some toddler antics and then think, "get over it; he is alive to do those antics." Every time I am overwhelmed with how much I love this little person and how much better he makes my life.
There are two things that always comes to my mind when I think of "raising awareness" about prematurity. One is that prematurity can affect anyone. Chances are you know someone besides me that has been affected my it. And chances are they didn't do anything that caused it. Prematurity isn't picky. Healthy people making good choices are affected by it. It stinks, but that's the way it is. The other thing that I always think about is what I think every pregnant woman needs to truly get in her head, and that is to go to all of your prenatal appointments and if something feels off to you, go get it checked. Even if your friend says that's how they felt and everything turned out fine, if something feels off to you GO TO THE DOCTOR. "Better safe than sorry" is a true statement, just ask my son. Okay, I'm done.
Today is the first worldwide prematurity day, which is kind of cool. The worldwide idea brings a couple other things to mind. One is how many countries do not have state of the art level 3 NICU's to save those precious lives. Unfortunately prematurity doesn't take that into account either. On the more self-centered side, I think about how Noah and I could have been affected by that fact. For awhile we had our sights set on going overseas for missions, and although I am really not a fan of the "what if" game, it hasn't escaped my thinking that if we had gone that route and ended up in some remote village or less developed country and a pregnancy had gone how it did, I probably wouldn't be alive right now.
I am so thankful for our little boy and our little family and every day we have together. Prematurity isn't how we wanted to start our family's story, but it will always be an important part of that story. And so I will keep wearing purple on November 17 and sharing our story.
"We need to fight because babies shouldn't have to."