One of the things I love most about Facebook is the ability to reconnect with people from my childhood. A while back, a woman with whom I attended junior high school requested to be my friend. I did not recognize her new last name, but I quickly figured it out. Funny – I did not know that we were friends. I thought she hated me. But through the power of growing up and out of the junior selves that we were, we now have connected through Facebook. I enjoy knowing about her life now. She shared a link yesterday from the March of Dimes about World Prematurity Day, which is today, and the information about it woke me up this morning with thoughts about premies. So – kudos to her for sharing the information that is dear to her heart.
Sixteen years ago, I was pregnant with our beautiful daughter who will sing again tonight in Fridley High School’s production of Footloose – the Musical (do you have your tickets??). In fact, at this time in the calendar sixteen years ago, Kerry and I had flown to the east coast to look at Princeton and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminaries. I was “great with child,” uncomfortable, and excited about our trip as it included a pre-Thanksgiving meal with my Rhode Island family. A month later, however, my doctor put me on bed-rest with pre-eclampsia symptoms. And two months later, on January 24, my doctor said, “We are having this baby today!” because the condition had worsened. C-sections are a beautiful thing – at least in my experience. Two hours after my doctor decided that “today was the day,” my daughter and I no longer shared my body, and we had seen how beautiful she was. To this day, I can see that cute little button nose and small features of our beautiful little girl who has grown from 19″ into a five foot something young woman who sings “Can You Find It in Your Heart” in the musical like an angel. She has the stage to herself, spotlight just on her, and she is Vi Moore….
My daughter was born at 36 weeks gestation – just at the cut off of being a premie. Because my doctor had foresight that my condition could become dangerous for both of us, he had given me a shot a few weeks earlier to stimulate her lung growth as that would have been the biggest worry for her early beginning. Although she was tiny at 5lbs 4oz, she had no struggles right away. She has had some lung/asthma issues as she has grown up; however, her premie story is much less catastrophic than most premie stories.
I am amazed when I hear about how early of a start some babies get. I googled “earliest premie baby” and found a story on msnbc.com about a baby who survived being born at just under 22 weeks! That is amazing! I am also amazed when I googled “latest weeks to have an abortion in US” – 24 weeks. I want to be clear that I have a great deal of compassion for the women who have chosen abortion – in part because of this very contradiction in the medical field. If I want my baby, and she is born at 24 weeks, then we fight for her life. If I do not want my baby, and I am 24 weeks along, I can choose to abort in some states. This is so contradictory and confusing! Now, if I am in a situation of uncertainty because I am in pregnant without really wanting to be pregnant, what do I do? I have been privileged to walk down a healing journey with several women who have had abortions and have later regretted it. If someone is reading this blog and needs healing from that past decision, click here to find out information about the Conquerors program.
Sorry – sidelined…
The original thought about premies that woke me up very early this morning is that they are revolutionary as children, teens, and adults. When I say “revolutionary,” I do not necessarily mean that they are toppling governments, but that is a possibility as well. In my anecdotal, non-research based observations of life, I have witnessed that those born early, those who had to fight to breath, and those who have experienced this very early struggle in their own lives, grow into compassionate, earth-shattering, and moving young people and adults.
This was true early in our daughter’s life. She sees life through a different lens. Perhaps this is hardwired into her personality, but I do not think that is entirely the answer. I truly believe that there is something about that early struggle in her life that biologically and spiritually impacted her forever. She feels people’s struggles as well as sees them. She has an intuition in her that is rare to find. And she acts on these things. When she works at Village Creek Bible Camp during the summer, one of her favorite assignments during family camps is to be with families who have a member with special needs – whether adult or child. She and her lunch table friends have invited a special education student to join them every day at their table. “If he doesn’t sit with us, he doesn’t have anyone to sit with,” she said when I asked her more about it. A few weeks ago, they bought him a birthday cake to celebrate. This boy has issues, according to my daughter, but her table overlooks them. Instead, they see him as their friend, and they bought him a birthday cake! What high school girls do this? Where is the “mean girl” in them? I bet they all were premies!
Not all premies make it. Not all premies can lead independent lives. Some require constant care for the rest of their lives. Regardless of whether they are movers and shakers or need constant care and regardless at which week in gestation that they are born, they are babies. They are precious, and they deserve a fighting chance…a chance to become fighters regardless of their desperate and difficult beginnings. Thank God for the technological advancements that had been made so that our daughter could have a shot and avoid the NICU in her early life. Thank God for NICUs, though, for those who need some extra time and care to get their lives started. And thank God for the March of Dimes who champion the cause of premies around the world!