Wishing I Could Do More

As I’ve had to do so much this year, I had to step away from the blog–from all creative activities actually–because the kids were sick. We traveled the weekend before Thanksgiving, and both kids came home with colds. I try to temper my frustration with having sick kids so often this fall with gratefulness that the kids are strong enough to handle most common illnesses now. And relief that at least M has had a Synagis shot this month!

I’ve been moved lately by the preemie stories that have come my way. Since I’m usually the only Preemie Mama people know, they pass along all sorts of photos, videos, and stories my way, which I love! I’m already inundated with preemie stats and concerns, so learning more about this community is rewarding for me. Some of the stories mirror my own just enough to feel familiar but they are tragic enough that they disturb me. They remind me that someone always does have it worse and that even during our darkest days, we were always blessed with healthy kids.

Lately two stories stand out. The first is of a friend of a friend who lost her husband in a car accident a few months ago. Then, she was hospitalized for bleeding complications due to placenta previa. She had her baby girl at about the same point I had M. She also has a son at home, a son she cannot care for while she’s tending to her baby in the hospital. I find myself thinking of her a good bit. I do not know her name. She does not know me. But, I know just enough of her journey to hurt for her. I cannot imagine going through the NICU without your spouse, because my husband was the only other person who was in the dark place with me. We always had each other, and I think how unfair it is that someone should be stripped of her partner just before such a traumatic time in her life. I called my mom after I heard the story, and I asked her why some people get too much grief at one time. I know some of us have more faith than others. They would say I just don’t know the big picture, and maybe they’re right. But, I can’t help but have a gut reaction, frustration that one woman should be given such a load at one time.

The other story that has been on my mind is of a woman who just had a baby abroad. Her husband is in the military, and they’re stationed in South Korea. She had her baby at 31 weeks; she almost made it to the 32-week threshold that separates long NICU journeys from short ones. And yet her baby is struggling. He is having a difficult time breathing and eating, and I can’t help but be haunted by a critical factor: it is not customary for parents to hold preemies in Korean hospitals. The mother has been told she may not hold her baby for months, even though he’s already three weeks old. Her milk production is faltering, and, in my opinion, her son would be happier and healthier if he had a little contact with his mother. Human babies, no matter how early, need physical contact, which is why kangaroo care is essential. Of course, a 2-pound baby can’t handle all the stimulation of a newborn baby, but he needs his mother’s warm body, heartbeat, and steady breathing to help his own body remember all the jobs it must now do that it is no longer in the womb. Kangaroo care allows the baby to relax, to be soothed, to have some solace and comfort during a stressful time. So many studies across the world support the science of it. And it’s just common sense. No one soothes us the way our loved ones do! So, the idea of that poor baby being separated from his poor mama just haunts me. I also wonder about preemies around the world and how just a few alterations in care could dramatically change the outcome of so many little lives.

I only wish I could do more.

The preemie stories keep coming, and I keep filing them away, hoping that one day the full scope of what the heck I’m supposed to do with all this knowledge and this newfound passion will present itself.

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