Note: I modelled this after an essay
written by Kathy Lyn Harris titled “Dear Moms of Adopted Children.” I first read it on Thursday
and then shared it among my friends. It’s been on my mind ever since. (Kathy’s
post was inspired by Lea Grover whose essay titled, “Dear
Less-Than-Perfect Mom” ran in the Huffington Post on April 30th).
Kathy’s post made me think about moms like me whose path to motherhood was complicated
by premature birth
Dear Mom of a Premature Child,
I met you in the NICU. I met you through Early Intervention.
I met you at my daughter’s school. You were my massage therapist. You are my
neighbor. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.
I knew you right away. I recognized the uneasiness,
the fear, the wondering. Because
everything about your situation was out of your control. You could not stop the
premature birth of your child.
Maybe someone told you it was in God’s plans for you to have
a premature child and God never gives us more than we can handle. Maybe someone told you about what happened to their friend’s preemie. Maybe they told you there
was nothing to worry about because medicine has come so far- your child will be
fine. Maybe they were wrong. Maybe they
were right. Maybe you ignored them.
Maybe you were on bed rest for months. Maybe you carried
twins. Maybe your water broke early for no reason. Maybe a car accident induced
early labor. Maybe you conceived through fertility treatments. Maybe conception
Your child was born eleven weeks early. Fourteen weeks
early. Sixteen weeks early. Your child was early but healthy. Your child was
born with a heart condition. Your child was born with her intestines outside
her body. Your child died after only two days. Your child spent her first six
months in a hospital. Your child nearly died on Mother’s Day. Your child went
home after only four weeks.
I know about all the books you read. The ones everyone reads
that tell us what to expect- but you never expected this. You also read about
dealing with lengthy hospitalizations, disabilities caused by premature birth. Facing
the death of a preemie. About cognitive
delays, language deficiencies. About preemie support groups.
I know how you got up every day and faced that day with
determination. How you kangarooed your son for hours. How you loved your daughter from behind glass. How you flinched
every time the alarms sounded to alert nurses that your son stopped breathing.
How you held your breath as you watched him turn blue and prayed the nurses could
get him to breathe again.
I’ve seen you in front of the hospital watching the pregnant
woman wishing you were still pregnant. I know the pain of losing the future of
a full-term pregnancy. The loss of a “normal” birth. The scars of a classical
C-section you never wanted to have. The pain of having to pump your breast milk
for months on end instead of nursing your child who lays there in an incubator
fed through a tube.
I know the fear of loss. I’ve seen you look down at your newborn
infant, wondering if she’ll survive.
I know the never-ending tests. Head ultrasounds, eye exams,
heal sticks every day. You avoided caffeine your entire pregnancy only to learn
your preemie was being pumped with caffeine through his IV.
I know about the friends who don’t know what to say to you. “Congratulations?”
But your child may not survive. This child before you who is still covered in
lanugo hair and has undeveloped nipples.
And then, for many of you, I watched the day your child went
home for the first time, 7 weeks, 14 weeks, 22 weeks after birth. You brought
him home, happy to have your child in your arms, yet afraid he might stop
I know that bliss laced with fear. That guarded, yet hopeful
moment when you were finally together as a family.
I’ve watched you cringe as others brush off your lingering anxieties
only to tell you everything is fine because, “Look at her now!” Everything’s
wonderful. Except it isn’t. You were traumatized. You still live in fear.
I’ve seen you worry when your child is evaluated for Early
Intervention. Is her language delayed? Will he ever walk? Is he learning disabled?
You dutifully complete every task, exercise, language activity the experts give
you hoping to avoid long-term disability. You cry yourself to sleep at night
I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the
questions that have to do with why her head is shaped funny, or why he needs a hearing
aide, or why she can’t walk even though she’s already two. I’ve watched you
field perhaps the hardest question of all, “Why was she born so early?” A
question you cannot answer because you still blame yourself for the betrayal of
a body that couldn’t complete a basic human function.
But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve watched you
with your child. Seen your fierce determination to get him the services he
needs. Watched you read aloud to her every single day since she entered this
world. Watched you help him transition into school life with the least
difficulty possible. Watched you help her learn to jump after hours and hours
of practice so she can play with the other kids.
I’ve seen your love. Your undeniable, mama-bear love. You will
do whatever you need for your child. You love this child with an intensity no-one
can break. You are the mom of a preemie and you are fierce.
Happy Mother’s Day.
#RochesterLife 61: Cervelli Farm. I’m so happy every year when Cervelli Farm stand re-opens each May. Today’s purchases included local tomatoes, corn on the cob, and Great Hill Blue Cheese (made in the next town). #buylocal #nofarmsnofood #locavore
My “office” for a few hours today. Yes, I kayaked a little and floated a little, but I DID get some work done, too. I set-up my research notebook for a new project and read a bit of one of my resources. I didn’t get as much work done as I would have at home, but it’s been pretty busy around here and the break was nice. I’m home now and back to reading. #amwriting #amresearching
I love this squid gate in Woods Hole and the cuties in front of it.
This picture makes me so happy. I know you can’t tell from the image, but that’s my book...in France! 🇫🇷 I love the thumbs up. #FlyingDeep #STEAM
Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2018.
I’ve been busy so I didn’t post, but I wanted to share a few images from #2018folklife on Sunday.
As many times as I’ve been on the National Mall, I’m still awed by the view of the Washington Monument every time. The images that follow include making lavash in the Armenian section and human towers and giants in the Catalonian section. So much cool stuff was happening in DC last weekend.
National Portrait Gallery
On Sunday, we made a short visit to the portrait gallery. We had a toddler with us, so it was not to be a long trip. The plan: go directly to see the Obama portraits and then catch whatever else we could in the time we had.
The first painting I noticed was Henrietta Lacks painted by Kadir Nelson. @kadirnelson is my favorite illustrator, so I recognized his work from afar. I’m blown away every time I see one of his paintings in person.
On our way to see President Obama’s portrait, I spotted the Chuck Close painting of President Bill Clinton. I’m fascinated by Close’s work. Viewed from a few feet away, his paintings don’t look like his subject. From a distance, the subject is so clear.
The next photos in order are: •President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley, •Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald, •A sculpture of Rosa Parks by Marshall D. Rumbaugh that I find fascinating for its use of perspective,
•LL Cool J by Kehinde Wiley.
Last, is Toni Morrison by Robert McCurdy. Morrison is one of my favorite writers, so I spotted her image before I even entered the room. His painting (yes, painting, NOT photograph) hangs to the left of Michelle Obama’s portrait.
We didn’t stay long, but I couldn’t have asked for a better collection of portraits to see during our short visit.
Capitol Hill Books, Washington, DC. This place is one of a kind. This sign near the front door cracked me up. And, yes, that’s the foreign language section in the bathroom. If you have claustrophobia, you probably wouldn’t want to shop here, but you can make some great finds. Mine is the book in the last photo: Words Without Borders. #wordnerd
Being in the DC Metro area means lots of places to get delicious Ethiopian food. #yummy #IMayHaveEatenTooMuch.
This is my favorite photo from my event @eastcitybookshop yesterday. Photo by the talented @g_meus Look at these two cuties. They each got their own copy. ❤️#FlyingDeep