I was looking through old pictures the other night and I came across this one.
For a minute, it took my breath away. I stopped. I stared. I remembered.
Even almost three years later I remember that day and that moment vividly. I remember what I was thinking. I remember how I felt. I remember how terrified I was. I remember looking into that isolette and wondering what the next days and weeks and months were going to hold for us. I remember being overwhelmingly afraid that my baby girl might die. I never uttered those words. I never shared them anyone, not even Travis. But in those first few weeks those thoughts consumed me.
Most people go through life trying to be prepared for things. You try to prepare for the next day. You try to prepare for the upcoming week. You try to prepare for dates and events that are months away. I think women especially try to prepare. From the moment you find out your are pregnant you begin to prepare. You prepare for your pregnancy, a full-term pregnancy. You prepare for weight gain and mood swings. You prepare for doctor's appointments and ultrasounds. You prepare for those first flutters and kicks. You prepare for the delivery and birth. You prepare for the day you bring your baby home. And some overachievers out there even begin preparing their child's life. It's funny, I thought I was prepared. Prepared for a full-term pregnancy. Prepared for the first kicks and flutters. Prepared for my belly to grow and expand like never before. Prepared for the birth of our baby girl in December. And with all the planning and preparing that I did, I never prepared myself for something like what we experienced.
Don't get me wrong I was well aware that things could go wrong. About five minutes after I saw the positive on the home pregnancy test my mind began to go wild with worry. For the first twelve weeks I worried about miscarriage. I worried about the baby getting tangled in the cord. Up until week twenty I worried that my cervix might give out. I worried about everything. I still worry today. Whenever I find out that family or friends or even Susie Q from around the way is pregnant I worry. I find myself holding my breath and hoping that the nine plus months passes ever so quickly. And while I worried about all of this and continue to worry about all of this, I never worried, or even thought about a premature birth. It never crossed my mind.
And when it did happen. When that became our reality, I was not prepared. Of course I wasn't prepared logistically. For goodness sake, at twenty-five weeks I had only had one baby shower. The nursery wasn't ready. I hadn't purchased the car seat or stroller. I had nothing. But forget logistics. My body wasn't prepared. My mind wasn't prepared. At only twenty-five weeks I was still able to wear most of my regular clothes. Three weeks before Morgan Kate's birth Travis had just felt her first kicks. My belly wasn't large. It had much more to grow. And my mind? Well my mind was set on December. My mind was set on doctor's appointments, wearing maternity clothes, picking out nursery furniture and all things pink. My mind was set on a big belly, restless nights and stretch marks. My mind was set on finding the most perfect and the most special coming home outfit. My mind was set on the joy and laughter that her birth day would bring. My mind wasn't prepared for a one pound, twelve ounce baby girl. A baby girl that would need help taking her first breaths. A baby girl that would be unable to eat on her own for weeks. A baby girl that I would not get to immediately hold or kiss. A baby girl whose life I would fear for.
And while I wasn't ready and I wasn't prepared for all that we experienced or went through, I think it's made me a different person. A better person that I used to be. And a much better mommy that I would have ever been. And there's nothing I would change about anything we experienced (Okay, maybe a few things) because we have been blessed beyond measure. And we have this amazing, beautiful, miraculous, little girl.
I don't think anyone can ever prepare for a premature birth. Ever. There's just some things that you can never be ready for. But, I do think people can make themselves aware. Educate themselves about premature birth and the warning signs of premature birth. For more information, visit www.marchofdimes.com.
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