Monday, September 10, 2012

Dear Prematurity

I wrote this a few weeks ago when I learned of another baby in "our" NICU. The news came after a long week of struggles with George. I went home and just cried, funstrated and sad and angry.

As far as I know, the new little one is plugging along well and should be home around his expected due date this winter.

Dear Prematurity,
I hate you.

I know it's proper to begin a letter with "how are you?" or "I hope you are well." You know what, though? Let's just cut to the chase. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you.

George in the NICU, 2008
Aside from seafood, hair clogs in the drain, and barf, there isn't much I hate. Things I find annoying? Sure. Things that temporarily steam my broccoli? Yep. But hate? Naw, not much I hate.

But you? You I hate. I hate you with the fire of ten thousand suns. I hate you with the tears of every mother who was told her baby had to be born too soon. I hate you with the grief of every parent who has ever lost a child for any reason. I hate you with the devastation that comes with seeing your child breathe with a machine. I hate you with every chug chug of a breast pump that reminds a mother that a machine is emptying her breasts, not a baby.

I hate that you claim 1 in 8 babies. I hate that you steal those one in eight couples from hearing their fat, healthy baby cry for the first time. I hate that, because of you, 1 in 8 couples is denied the chance to have their baby thrown on their chest, fat and wiggly and warm from the womb. I hate that, because of you, children face life long complications. I hate that, due to you, my son must struggle to speak.

I hate that my oldest son now asks if a new baby is going to be born healthy and come home. I hate that I now have a mental disorder commonly associated with people who have been through combat. I hate that our family's innocence has been stolen. We can no longer enjoy a pregnancy; it now brings the fear of a preterm birth with it.

I love my son and the friends we have made on this journey. But you, you prematurity, can go eff yourself.

You know what I hate most of all? I hate that you claimed another family. I hate that last night, I learned of another family who has a little one in the NICU, born much too soon. I hate that they are now learning about monitors and tubes and wires, instead of being at home, snuggling a milk drunk little one. I hate the weeks and months they have ahead of them, sitting there in the hospital, all because of you, prematurity.

Go away.

What's the cure for you? We have made such great strides in keeping you at bay- surfactant to help immature lungs breathe better, medicines to keep a baby healthy inside a mother, new ways to stave off labor. But yet, too many babies are still born too soon. Babies like my son. Babies like this new little guy.

How can we kick your ass?

Because, by golly, after weeks like this one, I want your ass on a platter.

This week, my son struggled with talking- something that is a direct result of YOU. YOU stole my son's voice. You did something to his brain. You are the reason he refuses to talk to other people, and is hard to understand. YOU.

Every week, I strive to look at the blessings- the friends we have made, the lessons we have learned, the strength we have gained. But after weeks like this, I would trade it ALL in for my son to have a voice and for no other child to be taken from the womb too early.

I want every baby born healthy and I want you to be a thing of the past.

Yours, not so fondly,

(Photo credit: my mother-in-law or myself)

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