She’s failing to thrive.

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“She’s failing to thrive.” I remember hearing the doctor say those words, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around them. I sat alone at my last “regular” doctor’s visit when the final decision to induce early labor was made. There had been nothing regular about the visits that led up to that day. Twice, sometimes three, times a week for the preceding 5 weeks, I was strapped to a monitor to evaluate my baby’s progress. Some visits lasted only 30 minutes, most were over an hour. Every visit included some discussion about early inducement. Was she growing? Was I losing amniotic fluid? Would she move, even just a little? Would orange juice be enough to nudge her into a kick?  Ice water? Anything? They always ended with, “Her heartbeat’s strong. That’s good.”

Days later, my husband and I were as prepared for “the worst” as parents could be when we headed off to the hospital early in the morning. While C played blissfully at home with her aunt, we somberly entered the sterile environment uncertain of anything, most of all if our baby would be OK. I quietly prayed. I fought back tears and put on a brave front as they strapped me to the familiar machine. My husband held my hand and stroked my forehead. I could see the stress hidden behind his eyes and concealed in his jaw. Neither of us is a good actor. Neither of us wanted to worry the other with our unspoken fears. Occasionally a nervous giggle, question, or bad joke would cut the silence. The stress of the morning eventually gave way to the routine of nurses in and out, visits from my doctor, and the beep-beep-beep of the monitors.

The stress that gave way to routine gave way to relief 12 hours later.  Our journey to that day had included 27 months of fertility treatments, countless hours crying over negative pregnancy tests, and several “scares” during my pregnancy. And for weeks, I had prayed for her survival. No conditions, I just asked God to let her survive with the promise that I would love her just as she was.

As I wrote about here, A was and still is a fighter. She fought, she survived, and she has thrived. There isn’t a day that I don’t thank God for her fighting spirit.

And, on occasion, I think about how our journey could have unfolded. I think about all the mamas and papas whose babies fought the odds and survived pre-maturity far graver than a month. I think of the parents who didn’t get to hold their babies on the day they were delivered or for weeks thereafter, or perhaps ever, sadly.  My heart aches for them in their losses and celebrates with them in their victories.

Shannon, author of the blog, My New Favorite Day,  shares her story and the realities of what A may have faced, if I hadn’t been able to hold her “inside” for those extra 5 weeks…if I hadn’t been given steroids to help develop her lungs…if my premature labor  hadn’t been stopped weeks prior to her delivery.

If: a little word that can forever change a life.

I spent Saturday morning catching up on many of the blogs I had fallen behind on reading. Shannon’s blog is always one I save for when I can read undisturbed. I don’t like to rush through her blog. She’s like a breath of fresh air. Inspirational, but not preachy. And, though her “wondertwins” arrived 11.5 weeks early, there are no words of self-pity on her blog; there is the testimony of a mama who celebrates the blessings she has received through her darling E and Q. She doesn’t write about disabilities, she celebrates abilities as E learns to scoot across the floor or Q sweetly passes a toy. She writes about the journey of a mother and a father and their children who arrived early and turned a couple into a  family. But above all, she writes about her journey to make every day her “new favorite day.’

As I caught up on her posts, I smiled, I teared up, and I met a new blogger through her regular interview series. But, it was her post titled, “Humility, Advocacy, and “The Greatest Love”‘ that caused me to abruptly stop reading. After reading through post after post, pausing only long enough to add my 2 cent comments, I paused to reflect on Shannon, the woman who offers her story so openly and in doing so inspires me and so many others to love well. In this post, Shannon shares the essay she submitted for a writing contest, a contest she didn’t win. She talks of shifting perspective to recognize that life isn’t about winning, it’s about trying.

One of the things she’s trying requires her to step out of her comfort zone and ask for help. (I think the fact that she’s not really asking for herself but for others is what is gives her the ability to ask at all.) Shannon’s family was selected as the March of Dimes Ambassador Family for Los Angeles. She calls it a “HUGE honor” because it “goes so deep into my core of wanting to do our small part to eradicate premature birth and take care of all moms during their pregnancies so they might never have to go through what we have, and those that have had it worse than we have.” (See what I mean? Humble.) Shannon has a large financial goal to meet, and if you are so moved, I know she would appreciate any help you can offer by going here: March for Babies – View Personal Page For wondertwins18.

We all have things that move us to action; sometimes, it’s a personal experience and sometimes, it’s the small voice inside pushing you to take action for something bigger than yourself. A few weeks back, I wrote about the efforts of some other bloggers who were raising awareness and  money for pediatric cancer. Today, I’ve been moved to share Shannon’s message and request for help. My motivations to share these requests are simple: 1) I believe in the causes they are supporting, 2) I strongly believe in giving back as and where I am able, and above all, 3) I am a mother who is simply grateful for the blessing of two healthy children.

What moves you to take action in your life?

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12 thoughts on “She’s failing to thrive.”

  1. Mary, I won’t bore you with my birth story. Let’s just suffice it to say I ended up with one. And he is a gift. It’s amazing to me sometimes how any of us had such difficult pregnancies or deliveries. So many of our children wouldn’t be here today were it not for modern medicine. I know I would not be alive. My husband would have lost both of us that day.

    You and Shannon are both inspirations to me.

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    1. Renee–
      I am also amazed by the number of us who have had difficult pregnancies and deliveries. I never consider a “birthing story” a bore because they are such a shared, yet very individual, experience that is woven into the fabric of who we are and becomes a part of our individual essence.

      I am sooo glad you and your son are both here! Yours sounds like a story that is full of inspiration and needs to be told, if you are so inclined. Hint, hint…

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  2. I got half way through the first paragraph and tears flooded my eyes! I don’t do pregnant well, and barely survived the ones I had, but somehow through miracles and many doctors, my boys are fine, healthy strong little guys…. IF…. WOW! Amazing share….

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Tiffany!
      As I said to Renee (above), I’m amazed at how many of us had challenging pregnancies/births/ and little fighters. I’m so glad you and your boys are all fine!

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  3. Thank you for writing this! Shannon is one of my childhood friends (the Great 8 if you’ve heard it before in old posts) and she has always been a beautiful person. She is a wonderful, kind, smart human being who was blessed with Q and E and they in turn have blessed her and KSP. Thank you to anyone who is able to donate to March of Dimes in honor of the Wondertwins!

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  4. Such a beautiful post and reminder that every single birth, whether full-term, very premature or somewhere in between, is truly a miracle. I follow both you and Shannon and feel blessed to know you both.

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  5. My gosh sister. I read this with a smile and relief, as well as a bit of identification. All three of my pregnancies were high-risk and like you, I spent so many hours attached to monitors. The heartbeat of each child was good, but Ben and Jim were induced early because they were failing to thrive. Beautiful blog and a cause well worth supportive. xoxo.

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  6. Seriously…27 rounds of fertility treatment? God clearly has a plan for Little A. I hope she grows up always knowing how hard you fought to have her, and how hard she fought to be here. Beautiful!! Shannon is most certainly a breath of fresh air. She brought me here :). I love that they are ambassadors for the March of Dimes, and I have no doubt they will supersede their financial goals. As I’ve told Shannon before, my baby Jamie did not survive, so even more so I’m thankful for the rest of the little ones who do. March of Dimes create miracles!

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  7. I was just reading Shannon’s blog. You are both that breath of fresh air for me, and I thank you for that! I definitely find inspiration in the sincerity and selflessness of others. While actions may speak louder than words, there are some pretty powerful words goin’ on out there (and right here)! 🙂

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  8. Oh my goodness, I am crying! First your own story about little A is so special. What an amazing fighter she is and it’s quite clear where that comes from:) 27 rounds of fertility treatments! A was meant for you!

    As for your most beautiful words and gesture to me and our family, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so moved I barely have words. I have to get the minis out the door for their first day of school but what a gift you have given us this morning to our souls. Much love. Xoxo

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  9. I had such a similar pregnancy. I had Oligohydramnios, amniotic fluid deficiency. Ultrasounds were at least twice a week, and every one a breath-holding experience, waiting to see if my little guy was OK. There were benchmarks, and an emergency C-section if any one of them wasn’t adequate. Like you, I am filled with gratitude that he made it to 34 weeks, as I was filled with wonder when he was born.

    So I take action when it comes to fighting for him, because he fought hard to get here. He deserves an advocate who will help him reach his potential. When others see his limitations, I see only possibilities. Because he is my adamas.

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