World Prematurity Day 2015

IMG_0814Today is World Prematurity Day, a day to raise awareness, and, for me, one more chance to celebrate. Did you know that on average there are 15 million babies born prematurely each year? Did you know that 1.1 million of those children pass away from pre-term complications? I never knew either, until 2006.

Here’s my micro-preemie, born at 24 weeks, 5 days, weighing in at a tiny 1 pound, 9 ounces.

It was 10 days before I got to hold her.

It was 105 days before we took her home.

She had two brain bleeds. She almost lost her left leg. She developed a life threatening blood infection. Her lungs stayed so weak for so long and she had to stay on the ventilator for so long, that, statistically she should have had major vision problems. She had several blood transfusions. She endured more in that three and a half months than I have faced in my life.

Today she’s a healthy 9 year old who loves books, animals, and superheroes. I will forever be grateful for the medical advances that saved her life more than once, and for the truly amazing care she received from doctors and nurses in the NICU at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

I am forever humbled by the privilege to be her mom, that God chose my husband and I to witness the miracle that she is, and my heart overflows with thankfulness to Him for her life.

Today she is giving a speech in her class about an invention that has made a difference. She chose the ventilator. I can’t think of anything more appropriate.



Motherhood – At the End of the Day (part 3)

So, after the big mom-fail the other night, I was sitting at work the next day, feeling really lousy, so I decided to go pay a lunchtime visit. She wrapped her arms around me and said, “I’m really sorry about last night, Mom.”

Then, that night, before bed she asked me if she was forgiven.

Oh! My baby girl. Of course you are. Always and completely. And please forgive me too.

This precious, tender-hearted child. I hate the idea that the world you live in will someday hurt you. I dread the day that heart of yours gets its first callus. Hold on to the gentleness, and the tenderness, and the softness that make you who you are.

And God help me to give you just enough toughness to THRIVE, to show the world that gentle hearts are the heroes we need.

Motherhood is hard. And it is the best job I’ve ever had.

I hope she wants to play some video games together this weekend.

Motherhood – At the End of the Day (part 1)

imageSitting outside on the cold front steps tonight, in the dark, petting my prodigal cat, I cried.

I ugly-cried.

You know what I’m talking about: big, fat, tears chasing each other down my cheeks, snot dripping, eyes swelling so much I could actually feel it happening, heat radiating off my skin, heaving, shuddering, breaths…the kind of crying that leaves your whole face splotchy and swollen for the next 12 hours.

Unfortunately, it started before I got out the door, meaning my kid saw the beginning – the watery eyes and quavery voice that told me I was gonna lose it. The crazy was coming out. My kid can not STAND to see people hurt or upset, especially people she loves. And she thought it was her fault.

Great, more guilt to heap on the pile of CRAP that was weighing me down, forcing the tears out.

I don’t know if my daughter has an anxiety disorder. I loathe that label. Detest it. And I want to believe that she’s just a natural worrier. But this is excessive. She doesn’t want to sleep alone. Every night she begs to sleep with us. On the rare occasion that she manages to fall asleep and stay asleep in her bed, she sleeps great for several hours. Sometimes she comes to my side of the bed in the middle of the night, but usually,  if she manages to get off to sleep, she rests peacefully. But most nights, it’s a battle, one that I lose because she needs her sleep, and I know that if I relent and let her get in my bed, she’ll drift right off.  Most nights as I lay with her, silently (and sometimes not so silently) willing her to go to sleep, she dozes off, but jerks awake every few minutes and checks to see if I’m still there.

This is somewhat normal, right? Separation anxiety?

But she’s 9 years old.

That doesn’t seem normal.

Are you afraid? Are you worried about something? Are you upset? Did something happen at school? Is someone bullying you? Is a UFO parking outside your window and shining its lights inside? Is there a pea poking you in the back?

Her answers range from “no,” to “I don’t know,” to “really, mom?”

I’ve changed her mattress, I’ve tried new night lights. No night lights. I’ve left the door open. I’ve closed the door. Glow in the dark stars. Heated blankets. Kittens – yes, real, live, kittens. I’ve offered bribes. I’ve threatened. I’ve reasoned. I’ve prayed. I’ve scratched her back. I’ve sang songs. I’ve told stories. I’ve made a play list of songs for her to listen to. I’ve begged her to trust me, that she’s safe, that I’m just in the next room, that I will check on her often.

Nothing helps. Nothing except sleeping with me.

For a long time her dad and I let it go, knowing it won’t last forever. She’s not going to want to sleep in my bed when she’s in high school, right? (Right?!) I’ve reasoned that someday she likely won’t want to be in the same room with me much less sleep with me. But now? She’s a 4 ft 2 inch, 80 pound, 9 year old. Her dad and I are not small people. Even in a king size bed, it’s not comfortable. No one sleeps well. Not even her, though you can’t convince her of that.

So tonight, the stress of battle got to this soldier-mom.

I sent her to my bed and tried to flee before the crazy came out. I didn’t quite make it. Just after I came in off the porch, here she came, tentatively padding down the hall, into her Daddy’s arms. I didn’t want her to see the aftermath on my face so I stayed turned away, but then she said, “I can’t sleep when I know you’re upset.”


Motherhood fail number 847,602.