November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Usually I am not a fan of all these "awareness" months, but this one I think people really aren't aware of what all it means. I mean sure, everyone knows about Breast Cancer (I think, I'd hope). But are people honestly aware of how many babies are born premature? I wasn't. I had no idea that that many babies were born so early, or what it meant to have a preemie.
It means more than just a tiny baby. It means a baby who had to fight for his life daily, for weeks. It means a baby that isnt handed to a smiling mama while the doctor proclaims "its a boy", but instead delivered to a room of doctors/nurses holding their breath for a positive outcome then rushing the baby out of the room to a waiting team of neonatal professionals.
It means learning terms like apnea, braycardia, patent ductus arteriosis, reflux, retinopathy, hemocrit counts, etc. And using those terms on a daily basis when you check in on your child. It means learning to breastfeed in a hotel room with a pump and a wrinkled picture a nurse took of your child.
It means learning more than how to install the carseat, but how to administer medications, reset heart monitors, and CPR.
It means waking up in the middle of the night 100 miles away from your baby in a cold sweat and shaking as you call the NICU because you had a dream that he died. To thankfully, be reassuringly told by an angel on earth that he was "having a good night" and sleeping, then laying back down (after hooking yourself up to a milking machine) and being unable to go back to sleep.
It means boarding an elevator nearly everyday for two months to travel to the 2nd floor along with families taking flowers to their new mom and sometimes meet families get off the elevator going home...with their 2 day old.
It means finally taking that walk yourself, holding your breath and pinching yourself asking if its really real after 63 days are you finally going home...all of you...going home.
It means every so often looking at pics of your tiny 3lb baby, while your 30 lb toddler runs through the house singing "Row Row Row, EIEIO, Little Tar!!!" It means every so often getting on your soap box to "educate" women (and men) on what premature birth means. It means hounding your pregnant friends every time they say their back hurts to make sure it just hurts and isnt "time able at regular intervals and getting closer.
It means being thankful for being allowed to witness a true miracle firsthand and never ever ever taking your child for granted. Even though at the time you were sure it was a punishment. But now knowing that it was a blessing that you just had to open your eyes to realize.