Some of my first thoughts as a parent were about how I️ had failed you both. I️ didn’t protect you from this world long enough, and now your tiny little bodies would have to fight for survival. One moment I️ was feeling your gentle kicks, the next you were both being rushed away in opposite directions by a team of medical staff. Instead of knowing you felt secure by the warmth of my womb, I now knew you both felt terrified by the sterile machines, needles, and rubber gloves that were handling each of you.
The first sounds I heard were not gentle cooing or healthy cries. Instead, I️ heard your monitors constantly going off and your nurses rushing to your side. I quickly learned more about medical terminology than I felt I learned about you. Instead of dealing with spit-ups or blow-outs, I was dealing with Bradycardia or what level CPAP you were on. I️ did not get to hold you right away, and sometimes my touch overstimulated you, so I️ had to step back. I️ was not always allowed to respond to your cries for help or hunger, even though I️ could hear your screams from across the NICU.
Did you even know that I was your Mama?
I️ did not get to take you home with me, instead I️ had to leave you each night, passing by happy families leaving the hospital together with carts full of “Welcome Baby” gifts. No “Goodbye” got easier than the last, it felt like my heart was splitting into pieces every single time I left those hospital doors. The silence of the nights hurt as I longed to be awoken by your cries. Instead, my alarm alerted me to wake up to pump, and I knew then that someone else was currently getting the honor of feeding you. People would often tell me to “Enjoy the rest,” but there is no rest for a Mama separated from her babies.
I️ could not take your pain away, and that killed me a little bit more every day. You both were covered in bruises from being poked and pricked so often. You had to have x-rays and spinal taps, and a whole team of specialists dedicated to keeping you alive. I️ did not keep you in my womb long enough for you to know how to breath, stay warm, or how to eat. You both had to learn how to do those things with lots and lots and lots of painful practice. You each had to overcome severe acid reflux that damaged your throats and made it unbearable to eat. Your brains had to learn how to keep you breathing, and I had to shake you sometimes in your sleep when it would forget.
My daughters, you are little but you are mighty. There is so much bravery wrapped up in your tiny bodies. That was just a chapter, not your entire story. You overcame ALL of it. You fought more battles in your first year of life than most of us face in a lifetime. You are forces to be reckoned with, science and statistics clearly have meant nothing to you as you overcome the odds time and time again.
Your stories nearly ended several times…but they were meant to continue,
to bring light to this world, and to change it.