November 17 marks the date for the first annual global World Prematurity Day. On this day, families of infants born prematurely are encouraged to share their story. Thirteen million babies are born prematurely every year. Of those, one million do not survive. Tomorrow we will be wearing purple to celebrate World Prematurity Day in honor of our premature babies and in memory of all the premature babies who did not survive.
I sat beside another mom in the lobby of the therapy clinic last week. We began talking. She told me her son was there for a slight speech delay. I told her my twins were there for speech therapy and physical therapy. I did not tell her, at that point, they were born 16 weeks early. When talking to other moms now, I always tread lightly. I don't delve into their scary, traumatic birth upon meeting someone. When people ask me how old they are and I say 19 months, I often get the reply, "They're so little." I usually just say, "Yes, they are." Sometimes that's the end of the conversation and other times, they ask further questions like, "How much did they weigh when they were born?" I'm certain they expect me to reply with a "shockingly" small weight like 3 or 4 pounds. When I casually reply, "1 lb. 2 oz. and 1 lb. 8 oz." their mouths drop in awe and their eyes widen in shock. That's the direction this conversation took. After the twins came home, I so desperately wanted things to just be normal that I hated these casual conversations. I didn't want to relive the experience. After a few more months passed, I began wanting to tell everyone their amazing story. It's such an incredible story afer all. Now, I think I have found a perfect balance. I don't jump into telling others about their prematurity at the first opportunity nor do I avoid it. I wait to see if the person I am talking to is truly interested and can handle the details. The other mom at the therapy clinic was truly interested in their story and asked respectful questions. She told me that she could not even imagine what it would be like to see your child at only one pound. I tried to tell her without frightening her what it was like to look at your child only weighing a pound.
When I first looked at my own children, I couldn't believe how small they looked. Jim had tried to prepare me for what I would see before my first trip to the NICU, but you can not prepare a mother to see her one pound babies. If you were to look back at the beginning of this blog, you would see that I never posted pictures of the babies their first few weeks. I still can't find the words to explain why I couldn't bring myself to share their pictures. I knew that when I looked at my babies, I saw my babies, tiny and with lots of tubes, but still my babies. I also knew that when others looked at my babies all they would see were tiny, sick babies with lots of tubes. I didn't think they would be able to look past the tubes to see my precious babies. Hands, feet, fingers, toes - those are all the pictures I took of the babies in their early days. Those were the parts that looked "normal". Fortunately, my mother-in-law took lots of pictures, and she took pictures of the whole baby! I am so thankful she did this. I recently asked her to send me all the pictures she took.
In celebration of World Prematurity Day, I am posting their birth pictures along with a recent picture. These pictures tell an incredible story and serve as a testament to the power of God, prayer, and advances in the field of neonatology. We are blessed!
Camdyn at 1 week old (she had dropped down to just 1 lb.)
Camdyn now (17 pounds of cuteness!)
Cade at 1 week old (he had dropped down to 1 lb. 6 oz.)
Cade now (23 pounds of fantastic trouble!)
Join us in praying for all families who have been affected by prematurity - those who are dealing with effects of their child's prematurity, those who are currently in the NICU watching their children struggle to live, and especially those families who have lost a child due to prematurity.