In my eyes it is no coincidence that both Thanksgiving and Prematurity Awareness Month fall within the same month. The battle of prematurity is one that my family knows all too well. In fact, our family has fought this battle with all five of our children. But contrary to what most people think, my husband and I are not the heroes in this story; we were NOT the strong ones. The real heroes are these tiny, premature babies who entered the world a bit too early, and fought like crazy to gain strength every single day. Five real life super heroes as my very own children! Even now, as I watch them reach new milestones everyday, the words I spoke to them in the NICU echo back to me so clearly.
Dear Sweet Baby,
It is absolutely bittersweet to see your face. We have been excited to meet you, but we didn’t know that it would be quite this soon. Welcome to the world, my darling… (I am trying so hard to be strong for you.)
I am sorry that they whisked you away from me so quickly. I am sorry that they poked and prodded you, but I was not there to comfort you. It destroys me to think of the hours that you spent confused and lonely in a strange box before I was able to join you. I got to you as quickly as I could.
I know that it is super scary in here. I know that it is super lonely, I know that that incessant beeping on the monitors is super loud. But you are super loved, my angel. You are my super hero.
Though I was just down the hall from you, I sometimes felt a million miles away. Leaving you at the hospital while I went home in an empty car is a moment that left permanent scars on my heart. I know these nurses are not family, but they will do what they can to comfort you in my absence. We will be forever indebted to them. I am sorry that I woke you when I gave you a million kisses. It was one for every moment I would be away from you.
I know that the way I hold you makes it seem like I have no clue what I am doing, but the truth is, I don’t. I’m mystified. As we snuggle together, tangled in wires, all I can do is daydream about the moments we will spend together snuggled in a cozy bed one day. I startle as the monitors beep, while you lay peaceful and still. Yet another reminder that you are the one holding it all together, as I feel like I am falling apart. You are my super hero, my love.
They say you can’t come home with us until you can keep your oxygen regulated on your own. *BEEP* The monitor taunts me as a constant, unwelcome reminder that it is not time yet. Soon though, my love, but not soon enough. You fight at the wires stuck to your skin and the feeding tube in your mouth as if to say, “I don’t need these silly things.”
Every day that I come to see you, it takes everything in my power to not literally run from the parking lot to your room. I swing open to the door to see something both terrifying and wonderful, that you are completely fine…without me. You are so brave, sweetheart. You are my super hero.
You are starting to gain weight. You are practicing eating from a bottle. You are fighting to maintain that darn oxygen level. I beam with pride with each new goal you reach, because it means one step closer to home. You are so strong and determined for such a tiny person, honey. You are my super hero.
Every time the doctors and nurses talk to us, I try to comprehend this new language I’m determined to learn. As they walk away, I look at your daddy praying that he was able to understand. Words like bilirubin, bradycardia, reflux, intubation, kangaroo care, NG tube, and dozens more terms have engulfed our lives and brains now that we have premature babies. Then your nurse finally said it! “They are rockstars, Mom. I think they’re ready to come home!” Thank GOD.
I love you more than you will ever be able to truly understand. I am more proud of you than you will ever know. Though you look so tiny and fragile, you are the strongest person I have ever met. Knowing how hard you have worked in your first weeks of life, I am positive that you will do amazing things. You, my sweet child, may have been born premature, but you were also born extraordinary.
Your forever biggest fan (Mom)
*Feature Photo Credit: Brandi Rovito Cassone