I will never forget the day I found out my co-workers triplet girls were born three months early and all well under 3 lbs. I was just over 4 months pregnant and the thought of going into early labor terrified me. I immediately got on the computer to see what I could send them in the hospital – anything to let them know we were thinking about them. What I found was Graham’s Foundation – a nonprofit dedicated to helping families with micro-preemies get through what is truly one of the toughest times in a parent’s life. Three months later, our boys made their grand entrance nine weeks early and under 4 lbs.
There is no way to prepare for the weeks/months spent in the NICU watching the babies you hoped to bring home immediately hooked up to monitors and feeding tubes, sleeping in incubators, masked to protect them from photo therapy lights and sending off alarms every few minutes because they forgot to breath. It’s harrowing and joyful all at the same time. Each new milestone is felt that much more… celebrated more too. I’ll never forget the day one of our boys had his first dirty diaper. The nurse turned to us and said, “This is the one and only time you’ll ever celebrate poop. Enjoy it! Now who wants to change him?”.
The girls are now 13 months old, our boys 10, and all are doing so well I can’t even fathom how we got here. Looking at our boys now you would never think they were born so early and struggled so much during the first few months. Preemies don’t always ‘catch up’ (most do around age two), so while we look at our boys and think they’re amazing, we know that the battle isn’t confirmed over. We may deal with a lot of issues down the line, but for now I’m just so relieved to say they’re happy and healthy. The fight for their lives made them tough little men; they refused to give up then, they sure as hell aren’t going to now.
All this is really just to point out that Graham’s Foundation has launched a Parents of Preemies Day for us to gather together and support one another. To all the mothers and fathers, grandparents, family members and friends who know what it’s like to see hands so small they fit on the pad of your thumb, I hope you’re having a wonderful day and will celebrate the little one/s who made you realize you weren’t invincible. To families out there that are still doing the daily scrub-up and garner strange looks for wearing hospital bracelets out in public, I wish you all the best and offer a little prayer that your munchkin gains an extra ounce today.
You Know You’re A Preemie Parent In The NICU When:
You measure your baby’s weight in grams.
The answer to “How old is your baby?” is a story, not a number.
You sometimes feel more like a nurse than a mom or a dad.
You’ve thought about buying stock in hand sanitizer.
Five pound babies look huge, and eight pound babies look impossible.
You know how many CCs are in an ounce.
You’ve celebrated the day preemie size clothes actually fit your preemie.
The parking attendants and cafeteria staff at the hospital know you by name.
You hear monitors going off even when you’re not in the NICU.
The hospital recliners have started to feel more comfortable than your bed.
When someone says kangaroo, you think ‘care’ instead of picturing an animal.
You start speaking in acronyms like it’s no big deal.
You’ve stopped noticing – or caring – how badly the skin on your hands is peeling.
It feels like your car drives itself to and from the hospital.
You start to actually crave the hospital pudding.
(list found on Graham’s Foundation website)
(p.s.) If you’d like to support Graham’s Foundation and the wonderful work they do, please visit here.