“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?