The thing is, I should have.
I should have known because a little more than six years ago, it was me who was sitting in the hospital, frought with anxiety and worry, as my baby girl was getting ready to make her entrance into this world … seven weeks early.
I should have known, but I’ve been busy doing things and thinking about … things.
The pregnancy started out simply enough. It went along just fine. I was healthy, the baby growing inside me was as active as anyone could have imagined. There was nothing to worry about. Then one day, there was nothing.
No movement. No kicking. No anything.
And the scary thing was that I was so busy doing … things … that I didn’t stop to pay attention. I was doing things for the house. Things for my son. Things for my husband and, yes, things for the baby on the way. Too many things.
Late that evening, I stopped. I thought it strange that I couldn’t remember feeling the little gymnast inside me that day … but I thought that in my pursuit of the completion of things, I simply hadn’t noticed. Tired from having done so many things, I made my way to bed and slept until, thankfully, a miraculous thing happened. My son — my sweet, wonderful, heroic son — woke with a cold in the middle of the night.
And then things started to happen.
I was immediately aware that something was amiss. There was still no movement. Just quiet. Stillness. I called my doctor, who told me that while all of this was likely just my imagination, I should come in, so they could set my mind at ease. At 4AM, I took myself to the hospital. And my life changed forever.
Things were not fine. Things were not in my imagination. My doctor and countless nurses did many things to try to rouse the little baby, but there was nothing. They told me to get my husband to the hospital, that the baby was going to be delivered as soon as he arrived. And delivered, she was. Alive, but just barely.
White as a sheet, she was whisked into the NICU and immediately given a blood transfusion. And another, and then another. For three days, new blood was pumped into my daughter’s tiny, fragile little body, filling her with life and color and promise. From there, there were monitors, frightening alarms that sounded at the slightest movement, incubators, and worry … constant worry. The doctors told us that had we waited even two to three more hours to go to the hospital, we would likely have lost her.
But we were lucky.
My daughter, who made such a dramatic, terrifying entrance into this world, is now a bright, vivacious, larger-than-life, six-year-old force of nature. Full of wonder and attitude, there’s no telling what things she’ll accomplish. My family owes everything to the brilliant doctors and nurses at the NICU at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland. I don’t want to think about where we’d be without them.
There are many, sadly, who aren’t so lucky. Things get in the way. Things happen. With the rate of premature birth rising by 30 percent since 1981, more research is desperately needed. One in eight babies is born prematurely; that’s 1,400 each day. An incredible 40% of mothers of preemies deal with post-partum depression. They fight struggles with guilt, sadness, and feelings of worthlessness, and need help. Let’s do something for them. November is Prematurity Awareness Month; please visit the March of Dimes to learn more and follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag, #fight4preemies.
Take a few minutes to stop doing things. And do a thing to help save our most fragile lives.