At the grocery store last night I got some icky salmonella filled juices on my hands after picking out some leaky breakfast sausage. I held it between my forefinger and thumb and carried it in search of a plastic bag and some hand sanitizer.
As I spread the cool liquid, my hands found the old familiar pattern: into the palms, in between the fingers, over the backs, all the way up to the forearms. The alcohol scent flooded my nostrils and took me to another time, another place, a different world.
It took me to dim lights and dull linoleum floors.
Hushed voices amongst the dinging of monitors.
Bili lights, pumps, syringes, feeding tubes, wires, and leads.
The quiet bustling of nurses around tiny sleeping babies not yet ready for this world.
Anxiously listening to the daily report from the nurses, trying to comprehend all of the information and new terminology.
Holding skin to skin, covering with warm blankets, kissing tiny heads, and dozing off together.
Saying goodbye, even if only for a few short hours.
All of that from a spray of hand sanitizer.
I remember standing in my hospital gown at Claire’s bedside at 3 days old, staring at her tiny then 2 lb 12 oz body all curled up on her tummy with her bottom in the air, swimming in a preemie diaper. I remember the nurse telling me she wasn’t digesting her food, she was still losing weight, and she wasn’t sure if the doctors were going to try and insert her PICC line a third time to get her more nourishment. She was so tiny they couldn’t get it placed right, and no PICC line meant that they’d just have to keep finding new places to insert IVs in her tiny veins.
I bawled by her bed, another nurse trying to console me. I returned to my room and bawling some more. And prayed like I’ve never prayed before.
The next day she turned a corner. She was digesting her food, even if it was only 2-3 mLs.
It wasn’t long before the neonatologist started referring to them as boring. And boring was good.
Every day I look at my happy, healthy, smart, playful, and insane former featherweights and marvel at the progress they’ve made in the past three and a half years. I’m so thankful for the hard work and dedication of the doctors, nurses, volunteers, and more who all made that possible. And I’m so thankful for the love and support we received from friends and family when we needed them most.
Today we celebrate World Prematurity Day for all of the tiny heroes out there, both in our homes and in our hearts.
For more information on prematurity, visit