via Daily Prompt: Fragile
Six hundred ten grams
Twenty-four weeks gestation
A haiku seems appropriate for how tiny and fragile my miracle twins were. Born at 24 weeks gestation “on the dot,” their survival was by no means assured. The day before they were born I had turned the page in my pregnancy book to 24 weeks, and read “Welcome to the window of viability.” Of course we knew it was serious. But the medical team wasn’t panicking, so I decided I wouldn’t panic either.
Amazing how, with all the technology and medical smarts we have, sometimes it all comes down to the will to live in a tiny scrap of human flesh weighing barely more than five sticks of butter.
Months after they were born, a member of their medical team confessed to me they worried the entire first month of their lives that they would lose one or both of them. But 13 years later, they are still here! And although they have lifelong challenges as a result of prematurity, today our lives are no longer oriented around the fact of their premature birth the way it was when they were babies. They are middle schoolers, teenagers (!) with distinct personalities and interests.
A Defining Experience
Yet their premature birth remains one of the defining experiences of my life.
The NICU is a place no one intends to experience or wishes on anyone. But having done so, it is a bonding experience like few others. I have many times been in awe and gratitude at the amazing people who have come into my life as a result of my children’s premature birth.
Four years after my children’s birth at Women & Infants Hospital, I returned to the hospital, this time as the first Parent Consultant for the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic. In my six years in that role I met many families similar to mine, giving them support, suggestions of resources, and mostly hope that someday life could be something like normal again.
A Book? Yes, A Book!
One of the first projects I was handed was a thick folder of papers and pictures that it turned out were left over from the calendar project they had done the year before. Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic Director Dr. Betty Vohr said to me, “Wouldn’t it be nice to put these stories in a book?”
It took five years and a whole team of people from all over our tiny state to bring to fruition, but in 2012, Precious Premies: The Post NICU Years was published! (It is available on Amazon at the link above.) It features 31 first-person “Inspiring Stories of Hope and Survival from the Littlest Babies in the Littlest State.” These are all babies who were born at Women & Infants Hospital and followed by the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic.
If you, like me, enjoy being inspired by the paradox of how something so tiny and fragile can prove to be so strong, I invite you to check it out.