Did you know that over 450,000 babies are born premature in the United States every year? And 15,000,000 worldwide. Because of their early arrivals preemies are more susceptible to a myriad health issues including apnea, PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis ) and RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome ). But technology and science continue to evolve. In fact, a preemie born today has a much greater chance at survival compared to only 10 years ago.  Keep checking back for more factoids.

The Heart of a Mother

11 years.

That's the answer to the question of "how long does it take where you are not constantly reminiscent on your due date after having a preemie?" 11 years. This was the first year that I did not think about my due date. Our son came home after his due date and I didn't think about THAT date until he had already gone to bed. I of course knew he was still awake and tip toed into his room and whispered "11 years ago today, we were finally able to bring you home!" I always love to watch his eyes in amazement as he thinks back to his birthday and how long ago it seems. And then he said "how did you do that every day!?" And my only reply was "we did it for you!"

This got me thinking deeper about life and the health of our children. We are out of the woods with his health, but I so remember the days after coming home from the NICU, where we were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. We had a re-admission into the PICU for a week after seeing several awful pediatricians (until we found the one we LOVED! Dr. Powell!! And he moved away shortly after our 2nd child was born, and then moved back...but too far and other circumstances prevented us from seeing him...but he will still be the standard that I set for the doctors my children see. He set the bar high, and I will always love him for that! Gave me hope in the medical field after seeing several ass-hats). But, yes...waiting for the other shoe to drop. Did it? It may have, but I think we just rolled with the punches (and punches they were).

Here's what I do think about. My children don't get sick all that often, but when my preemie gets sick, it hits me differently than the others – even after 11 years. Perhaps its a post traumatic stress disorder that I never addressed (I'll add it to the list of things I speak to my therapist about). But, there is something about him being sick that sends me into a slight panic. Is he more frail than the others? No. I don't even know if I can explain it properly. Perhaps its the curse of the oldest child or those preemie feelings that have been beat down only to creep back up when you least expect it. Recently, he had an EKG and an MRI (making sure that he really has a brain and a've got to check these things out!). Slight panic, just slight. I said out loud to my mom that if it was either of the other two going through these tests, I don't think I would have such a hard time with it. Preemies. I blame the preemies.  I blame my heart.

Who knows. All I know is that this motherhood shit is hard sometimes. Sure, we have our days where my cheeks hurt from laughing, or I need to turn my back or step out of the room for something hilarious that one of them said (usually, inappropriate...thanks mom and dad. I know that's the curse you put on me). But, its hard and not for sissies. Don't listen to the people who tell you that its all sunshine and flowers, every day. They are liars.

But, when people hear our story, they ask, like he did, “how did you do it?!” How did you travel back and forth to the hospital every day for 3 months!? The answer is, I did it, just like you would have. My husband and I are no more super-parents than you are. If it was your child, you would have done the same thing. Perhaps you would have done it with more grace than I, but perhaps not. We do what we need to do for our kids and for the task at hand.

So, while we preemie parents have a special bond and have been initiated into a club that we really don't care to induct new members, we welcome them, just as we were welcomed. Its bigger than that. There is a sisterhood of motherhood. A cult perhaps where drinking at noon is welcomed (I kid!)...but while there are days I want to tear my hair out, I wouldn't trade it for the world. If I could just get 4 seconds alone in the bathroom, it might make for a fantastic day...but that's a rarity.