This morning when we woke up after a mostly sleepless night, I had a message from a friend of mine wishing us a “Happy Parents of Preemies Day!” After some research, I discovered that today (the first Sunday in May) is, in fact, a celebration of parents of preemies! What interesting timing! There is no doubting the fact that a baby born prematurely has a great deal of obstacles to overcome, but the parents of these tough (but tiny) babies are definitely required to take on a role that no parent should have to endure.
We were blessed with a very low-key and complication-free pregnancy, as far as triplets go. At every appointment, the doctors would discuss with me how this pregnancy was defying all odds and used phrases like “statistical anomaly” and “miracle”. We could not be more thankful for making it to our goal of 35 weeks. No bed rest, no hospitalization. We went into the operating room that morning absolutely positive that in an hour or so, we would have 3 perfectly healthy babies in our room with us. We were confident that we would be bringing them home with us. After all, there were no complications. Why would we start now?
During surgery, I began to lose the confidence that we had clung to so tightly. Mila was born first, and before I was even able to see her beautiful little face she was rushed off to another room. The same happened with Colette, who came next. Noah was born last, and after a quick kiss he was taken to a warming bed across the room. I watched the nurses worried faces and looked on as I saw his chest move up and down rapidly with each labored breath. All I remember thinking at the moment was how badly I wished that I could breath for him. It wasn’t long before they rushed him away also. So there I was, a mom with 3 brand new children, but none of them in my arms. There is no way to explain the emptiness that a parent feels when you are unable to see and hold your child. But we had been through this all before with Keona just a few years prior… you would think being an “experienced” NICU mom would make this easier. However, being through it before actually made this second NICU stay even harder. I was painfully aware of what struggles were ahead of us this time, we were all too familiar the roller coaster that we had just gotten on. Over 24 hours passed before I was able to crawl myself into a wheelchair to finally see them in person rather than in pictures and videos from my hospital bed.
When you become a parent of preemies, every expectation you had about this monumental moment of your life changes in an instant. Instead of celebration, we were cautiously watching monitors with our hearts racing at every beep we heard. Instead of snuggling peacefully in our room, we were maneuvering wires and tubes just to be able to hold them for a few fleeting moments. Instead of visitors oo-ing and aw-ing over our sweet new babies, they remained quarantined and were not to be held outside of designated “touch times”. NICU parents are required to learn new vocabulary and terms that I personally hope to never have to hear again. DSAT, CPAP, braycardia, bilirubin, oxygen, and NG tube became terminology used in every day conversations. Constant beeping from the monitors was the sound that our children would hear as they drifted off to sleep, instead of lullabies.
10 of the longest days of our lives…but even so, I can’t help but think that it was ONLY 10 days. Though I would not wish a NICU stay on any baby, parent or family, I cannot help but be incredibly grateful that our stay was only 10 days. I can’t help but feel incredibly blessed that though we were in the NICU, that our babies were the healthiest babies in the unit. My heart broke as I saw other parents watch their incredibly tiny babies through the foggy plastic of an incubator, unable to touch them. I watched parents’ hopeful faces as they walked in their baby’s room not knowing what to expect each day. I witnessed their tear-filled eyes as they left to go home without their child yet again, day after day. And though we did not personally witness it (thank God!), I know that there are some parents that never get the opportunity to bring that beautiful baby home, as they go home with Jesus instead.
So parents of preemies, in the midst of the craziness, this is your day. Your day to acknowledge the most heartbreaking days/weeks/months of your life. Your day to acknowledge your own strength and the obstacles that you and your family have already overcome together. Your day to hold that beautiful baby a little tighter (in your arms or in your heart) as you recognize the battle that you have fought together. This experience has changed your life forever, and you will forever be stronger because of it.
May God bless you all!
Check out this video at Brittany Ebany Photography for a beautiful compilation of pictures of our NICU experience!