I mentioned a couple weeks ago that it was Austin's first birthday. I still can't believe he's one and a birthday recap is coming up in the near future - let's just say it was a fantastic party, but I'll save that for later because today marks a special day for our family.
A year ago today my husband and I brought our son home from the hospital. It may seem like a weird thing to celebrate but Austin was six weeks early and spent almost two weeks in the NICU before we endured the scariest drive of our lives: the drive from the hospital to our home. With our bundle of joy wrapped up in the back seat we were anxious to get him home and so nervous the entire 45-minute drive through Atlanta rush hour traffic.
You don't plan on having a premature child. Each pregnancy and child are unique and for some reason our big guy wanted to make an early arrival. We were beyond blessed that after his birth there were little to no complications, so his stay in NICU was fairly short and ultimately uneventful.
During those two weeks I sat by his crib for hours listening to the soft beep of the monitors. I made friends with the nurses that cared for my child when I couldn't and who taught me the proper way to change a diaper and burp a baby.
I stayed up all hours of the night and called the hospital at 2 a.m. just to make sure his feedings went smoothly. I broke down, falling to the ground, at the hospital entrance when I left each night. I'd pass the happy new moms taking their little ones home and my heart filled with jealousy, anger and sadness. Why wasn't it me taking my baby home? I missed him terribly when I wasn't with him and I felt guilty each time I pulled into the garage at home.
I don't wish that experience on anyone. Helplessness as you watch them change feeding tubes and IVs. The uncontrollable yearning to comfort your child. Knowing that your baby will go home but so many other babies who spend time in the NICU won't get the same opportunity. It's completely exhausting and altogether heartbreaking. It made me a stronger and more grateful person.
To show my appreciation for all those that helped my family during those two weeks, I'm helping to raise money and awareness for the March of Dimes. My family and I will be walking in the local March for Babies and I encourage each of you to participate in your local chapter. The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. You can check out my personal sponsorship page here but even if you can't give monetarily please keep all the beautiful and innocent children in your prayers. Remember their parents, their grandparents, aunts and uncles. Remember how strong these little ones can be and how easily they can change your outlook on the world. Each and everyone of them deserves the best chance at life and with your help we can take steps to make that possible.