Life

World Prematurity Day: Remembering the Ache of Empty Arms

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“Parent groups, families, health professionals, politicians, hospitals, organizations and other stakeholders involved in pre-term birth observe this day with media campaigns, local events and other activities conducted on local, regional, national or international level to raise awareness among the public. In 2013, WPD was celebrated in over 60 countries”

On a day like today there are reminders of all the babies who survived their early birth.  It’s wonderful!  I love these stories.  I have a very dear friend who is an NICU nurse who spends countless sleepless nights bringing these little fighters into the world and ensuring them the best possible care.  I love her for that.  She is one of the most empathetic and nurturing people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and I consider her my silver lining to a dark cloud that followed me around for years.

Here comes the “but”… why my baby?

One day I was blissfully expecting my first child and the next I was listening to the words No chance of survival while at that very moment I felt her kicking inside me saying, I’m still here, fight for me!

I pushed a tiny child into a world she would never see, her eyes unopened her little lungs too immature to fight for breath.  I watched as they held her down so I didn’t have to see her struggle with her first and last life experience.

Today on World Prematurity Day I remember the tears that slid down my delivery nurse’s face as she watched my angel come into the world. I remember wishing I wasn’t conscious but also fighting to memorize every second of her short existence.

I buried my baby in clothing I took from a doll; yellow pajamas that said “Sweet Dreams”.   I remember giving the naked doll to my Mother-in-law and asking her to get rid of it.

Two years later, after months of bedrest, 17 ultrasounds and bi-weekly trips to the Special Pregnancy Unit I finally welcomed a full term baby.  There were no guarantees I would be able to fill my arms and my heart with the joy of another baby girl.  I am grateful beyond words for the miracles I have been bestowed.

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Here comes the “but”…but I will never forget the ache of empty arms.  I will never forget that my first born kicked and somersaulted inside of me as I was told to give up.

Hindsight can be torturous.

A few years later my Mother-in-law presented my daughter with a gift.  It was the doll I had asked her to discard.  She had stored her and waited for the right moment to bring her back into our lives.  On her sewing machine she had designed an outfit with a matching hat and blanket that read “Madison”.  Nine years later my daughter still takes this doll everywhere she goes.

I am blessed.

But…I will not forget.

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Never forget who you are, little star…

Thank you to Dr Knox Ritchie of Mount Sinai Hospital for taking such amazing care of a crazed pregnant lady for 7 months of trepidation and fear.  You will never know what  your empathetic ear and kind bedside manner meant to me and my family. 

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