Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Happy Prematurity Awareness Day
There are two kinds of people in the world: those born full-term (at or about 40 weeks gestation) and those born prematurely (before 37 weeks). Today, November 17, is National Prematurity Awareness Day. It is also the birthday of my two favorite preemies in the world, Isaac and Molly. (Happy birthday!)
Those preemies are 19 years old today. I know, I can't believe it either. Part of the reason that's so hard to believe is that the struggles they faced for the first five months of their lives are vividly etched in my brain. I remember more about those five months than I do about the last five months. That's what crisis does to us. It makes us hyperaware.
We've lived through it and those tiny little babies, born at just about a pound and a half each, are now young adults, off on new adventures. For years, people have encouraged me to write their story, but I wasn't ready. I needed to get them safely here, to this place, before I could gain the kind of perspective needed to write a compelling, meaningful memoir. The time has come for me to write my part of this story, because from here on out, Ike and Molly's stories are theirs to tell.
Many of you know that I have been participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I'm here confessing that I'm a NaNo Rebel, writing a memoir, not a novel. Along the way, I reread and transcribed the journals I kept during those long days in the hospital. I took me right back to their bedsides (I should say, isolette-sides). I've been bawling my eyes out, but they have been good tears — cathartic tears, finally letting me shed the fear of that desperate time.
As part of this project, I have decided to launch a new website today, chronicling that time on the neonatal care unit of Evanston Hospital by posting the actual journal entries, day-for-day, 19 years after the fact. I hope you join me on their journey at Mike&Ollie: 24-Weekers Who Beat the Odds. You're in for quite a ride.
We have been so lucky at every step along this journey. We have had wonderful doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, teachers, helpers, family and friends who have helped and supported us. You know who you are. If I haven't said it recently, thank you. I am mindful even as I write our story, that many families with similar stories have not been as lucky as we have been. My heart is with you. My hope is that this project will help those who are at an earlier point along their path.
I welcome your comments here, as always, but I hope you'll visit the new site and leave your comments there, as well. Don't miss the video page, which has the commercial they made for Evanston Hospital and a short video they made as a gift to the parent support group of the Infant Special Care Unit. Bring tissues.
A special thanks to the lovely Rebecca Rasmussen for granting me a guest post today on her blog, The Bird Sisters.
FYI, you can now find me posting occasionally on Technorati. Here's the post that went up today about the Empire State Building lighting up for Prematurity Awareness Day.