Strong Women: When Your #Baby is a #Preemie

Mom 001You may already know that my youngest has had some health issues. What you may not know is that before she came along, I was weak. I passed out when the nurse pricked my finger when I went in for my first prenatal appointment. I couldn’t stay in the same room when the vet examined my kitten. The thought of going through childbirth terrified me. I worried about everything – the pain, what life would be like, if I could handle being a mom.

Then, on June 22, 1995, I left my doctor’s office, drove myself to the hospital and 15 minutes later, my kiddo was born by emergency C-section. She had her first heart surgery when she was a day old, her first brain surgery when she was three weeks old, and another when she was three months old. Pretty rough stuff for a 2 lb 7 oz infant. I was in pretty rough shape, too. During my stay at the hospital (part of it in ICU myself), I was poked, prodded, and so much blood was drawn, it really didn’t bother me anymore. Our tiny baby spent three months in the NICU. During that time, I discovered that I was so much stronger than I ever dreamed. Suddenly, the little stuff didn’t matter as much. I shifted into survival mode.

But the moment I realized how strong I was was when my kiddo needed surgery at 2 1/2 years old. Her shunt failed. She needed a new valve and catheter into her brain. The surgery went well and she was released the same day. We took our little girl home with a c-shaped scar on her head, thankful for the good docs at the University of Missouri. A week or so later, I sat in the neurosurgeon’s office with her in my lap as the doctor pulled staples out of her head (you know, what he used looked a lot like what I use to pull big staples out at the office . . . ).

If anyone had told me that I’d be able to do that a few years before, I would’ve shaken my head and declared confidently, “No way!”

She needed another surgery when she was 11, and just last month, she needed another. This most recent one was difficult for different reasons. My kiddo is now living on her own, an adult. Yet, it was just as hard to watch them take her away to the O.R. as it was all the other times. I still waited anxiously to see her after it was over. This time she didn’t want me to stay the night with her, she wanted her boyfriend. Though that hurt my feelings, I left them together at the hospital, glad that I’ve raised a daughter who is strong enough to deal with her health issues.

The obstacles that life throws at you make you stronger. I tried to incorporate that in my book, Denim & Diamonds. I wanted Beth to start off unsure of herself, and wanted her to grow throughout the story – to find strength that she didn’t know she had.

Tell me about your strength. When did you discover you are stronger than you thought?

Cherish Yesterday

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This is the vinyl wall decor I made on my Cricut and have on our living room wall. I love this saying. I can’t take the credit for it – I saw this phrase somewhere a long time ago (though I may not have it exactly right) and it really stuck with me. It speaks to me. Every day I read this and remind myself of what is important.

Cherish Yesterday.

This doesn’t mean you should live in the past. Instead, remember the good times. Forget the bad times. Hold the memories close that all strung together create your history.

On second thought, don’t forget the bad times. The moments are like stepping stones, leading you to this moment. Right here, right now. Those moments, good and bad, all string together to create a path through life.

Case in point: Our daughter was born extremely prematurely and weighed only 2 lbs 7 oz at birth. She spent three months in the NICU and has had several surgeries. Although the three of us have been through a difficult time, we made it through together, and are stronger for those struggles. Probably the biggest takeaway from those health issues is this: we are lucky. Very, very lucky. And we learned that we can depend on each other, lean on each other, and support each other, no matter what. Those difficult times bring you together. You forge a bond that can never be broken.

Remember that no matter how difficult things are, there is someone else going through something more difficult (and you can use your experiences to help those who are worse off – and if you don’t know where to start, consider volunteering for or donating to the Children’s Miracle Network). (BTW – if you are feeling sorry for yourself, thinking how difficult your life is, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or a hospital, or a nursing home. This will nourish your soul. I promise.)

Remember those who are lost. Keep them alive in your memories.

Remember your youth, the fun, the excitement and the wonder of life.

Look back on yesterday, and cherish it.