Today’s the day. All week, I’ve been blogging about my experience with my preemie, Luke. Today, though, is the “official” national prematurity awareness day.
What the heck does that mean? That may be different for everyone, but for me, it means educating as many people as possible on the horribleness that is “prematurity” for many reasons:
1. So uneducated people don’t say stupid things to parents of a preemie, like “Well, that’s what happens when you have that many kids.” Yes, someone really told us that.
2. So our federal government will put the dollars necessary into preventative research and not into some stupid highway to nowhere. We have to be advocates for the things we believe in and let our elected representatives know. It’s why we love being in a democracy. Speak up if you believe in it and TALK REALLY LOUD.
3. So you can help a friend or family member navigate the NICU/special needs/infant loss world when you have to. Yes, I said “when.” I bet if you polled your friends and family you would have at least a half dozen (probably more) affected by prematurity. This isn’t someone else’s cross to carry. Don’t be bashful, help carry the load. Your cross will come along soon enough and you’ll want some help lugging the load, too.
4. So you can have a little more tolerance the next time you see a child with special needs, they have feelings, too, even if they can’t articulate it.
5. So you can hand over the tissue and provide the listening ear when a mom shares with you the death of her child. While I’ve only suffered a miscarriage, that loss never really leaves. The hole never really heals. You want someone to know that your child lived, that they mattered, that their life had purpose – no matter how many breaths they took.
6. So you can be more patient when you see a mom trying to balance a household, therapy visits and the normalness of life. One never knows the depths of prematurity and how far it can reach into a family.
I can say this with certainty. Prematurity happened to our family. It changed us forever. I will never, EVER, look at other children the same again. We never know someone else’s struggles and it has made me more tolerant, less judgmental. Prematurity did not, however, take away my faith, my compassion, my humor or my life. No, prematurity actually gave me all those things. I just had to be open to its life lessons.