The first thing the doctor said to us when Jaxson was born was “He’s alive!” Not, “It’s a boy!” They rushed him off to the NICU before I could see him or touch him or hold him.
The first time I touched Jaxson, the nurse cautioned me to touch him with a gentle, still hand. I should not rub him. I should not caress his small body. When I wanted to move away, I should do so very slowly to make sure I did not rip his skin.
The first time I held Jaxson, his head on my chest, his tiny feet did not touch my belly button. They did not even come close.
The first time I saw Jaxson’s eyes open, he was 2 weeks old.
The first time I got to dress my baby, he was 2 months old.
The first time I saw Jaxson’s beautiful face without any tubes or wires or IVs, he was 2.5 months old.
The first time Jaxson got to see the sun and sky, he was 3 months old. (I don’t count the transfer from St. Cloud to St Paul in the ambulance!)
As a first time mom, I didn’t have anything to compare these experiences to. It was normal for us.
But… it’s not normal. We’ve had to do things that other people can’t even imagine. Being a preemie parent gives you super powers. You are braver than Batman: you learn to push on in the darkest times. You are tougher than Superman: you learn to say “Well, I think he will recover.” when a doctor says “This might be the end.” You are more adaptable than Mystique: you learn to hold your baby in a nest of wires, and ventilator tubes, and IVs.
You are a preemie parent; you are a superhero: you learn to hold your baby so you don’t rip his skin.
Parents of Preemies Day is “a national day of awareness recognizing the courage and commitment it takes to stay strong and resilient when premature birth turns a family’s world upside down. Each year, 13 million babies are born prematurely across the globe to parents who never expected their birth stories would be so challenging. Though medical breakthroughs continue to improve outcomes for preemies, experts are only now beginning to understand the intense psychological effects that premature birth has on moms and dads.”