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.

11 comments:

Carolyn Brandt Broughton said...

Where you go I will follow. Yours is a story that will give hope to so many. Godspeed!

Jim Silverman said...

Happy Birthday, I&M!

Susan Bearman said...

Carolyn, thanks for the follow. I hope you're right about our story.

Jim — Thanks. I will pass on your good wishes.

Linda Gartz, Family Archaeologist said...

What a great celebration of two lives transformed by love, attention, and devotion (as well as technology). Happy birthday to two beautiful young adults and the parents who supported them through all those growing pains!

Beautiful blog!

kate hopper said...

Susan, it's so wonderful to read a little of your story and their story. Can't wait for more. Happy birthday to your amazing darlings!

MoDBev said...

I am so glad you are a rebel and writing a memoir. I hope you get the opportunity to publish it. I am going to the other site, but wanted to take a minute to thank you for helping raise awareness in our fight for Preemies.

Susan Bearman said...

Bev — Thanks for your support of my memoir. It feels pretty good to be the rebel, for once in my life. It is my pleasure and honor to support the March of Dimes and all the good work you do.

SleepSafeBaby said...

Wow - happy birthday to Isaac and Molly. I can't say enough how much I admire your courage and can't imagine what those 5 months must have been like. Our twins (also boy/girl) were born 6 weeks premature and spent just under 2 weeks in the NICU. We were quite lucky and will never forget the support we received, even though they were there for such a short time. They are now 2 years old!

Susan Bearman said...

SleepSafeBaby — thanks so much for stopping by. I have a special place in my heart for B/G twins. We've had such a blast watching our grow up. I hope yours continue to do well. Be sure to follow our NICU journey at Mike&Ollie and stay tuned for the memoir. You can also follow on Twitter @MikeOllie2.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I'm off to read it. Happy Birthday to your miracles and to all the others who beat the odds. And for all the little angels who tried but couldn't make it, my heart goes to those who love you and miss you.

Susan Bearman said...

Tracey, thanks for reminding us of all the little angels. We remember every day just how lucky we are, and our hearts, too, go out to those families missing their babies.