My beautiful niece-in-law (that is a thing, right?) sent me a message the other day which cut me to the core. Her friend had just had a baby boy at 24 weeks gestation. My niece wanted to know an appropriate gift, or what she could do for her friend. First, that she sought out someone she knew had lived it says a ton about my niece. She’s a gem and a blessing to our family. What crushed me was, with all the technology we have, and how far medicine has come, parents are STILL living what we lived almost fifteen years ago. It just shouldn’t be so.
This new mom and her baby boy have been constantly in my thoughts the past few days. My heart just aches for her. I remember too well our early NICU days, how terrifying they were, my son’s life hanging in the balance every single moment. I remember the endless days sitting next to his isolette, unable to even touch, much less hold, him. Three months can be an eternity, especially when you are staring it down from the beginning. This family has a long, long road ahead. And to be brutally honest, there are so many things that can go wrong, and the chances heavy they may have to say goodbye to their precious boy. Every time they come to my thoughts, I pray. I pray he survives. I pray his parents can be strong. I pray the hands of the doctors and nurses caring for this tiny boy will be guided by God. I pray this boy’s journey will mirror my son’s, and someday fifteen years from now, his mom will be telling his story as she watches him run the bases, throw the football, play golf, or spend hours on the XBox with his friends.
This is one more reason we keep volunteering with the March of Dimes – because this is still happening to families, nearly half a million times in the US every single year. Our son is healthy and “normal”, but this new, tiny boy is one more reason I’ll keep asking friends and family to support our efforts every year. The fight is not over. The battle far from done.
I don’t know their names, I didn’t ask, but please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers. The journey doesn’t end when you leave the NICU, and it seems an eternity just for homecoming day to arrive. To the mom I would say, “You’re not alone. We’re here. We’re thinking of you and your boy. Take care of you. Revel in the wins, cry at the losses. Let yourself grieve, and try to let the guilt go.” If I could, I would give her a hug.