You know the moment when you look at your child and your lungs fill up on so much love you can barely breathe? You look at her and she is of course doing something incredible smart and advanced and looking absolutely adorable, and you get the strong, almost uncomfortable feeling of tingles running up and down your spine. The feeling of pure, naked, unconditional love (it must be), a feeling I do believe you can only feel for your children. I look at her and feel like that all the time. My little princess, she has been through so much.
It is our baby girl’s first birthday. She is one year old!
A year ago things looked pretty scary before baby girl was born and took that very first breath (a lot of focus on her actually breathing followed).
My husband ran over to my bedside after over 30 hours of labor telling me our firstborn baby girl “looks normal”. The attending doctor (not up to date with our fears and worries) probably thought he was being underwhelming and oblivious to the blessing that was our brand new baby when in fact it was the opposite. The doctor told my husband in a stern voice “she looks amazing” and even though we agreed (but of course) he was only doing his job reporting back to me that she in fact looked “normal” (all those worse case scenarios still fresh in our minds). I know that we would have loved her no matter what and seeing her for the first time made my soul sing.
We welcomed her instantly with open arms, into our family and our hearts.
Premature birth is a topic that is extremely important and sometimes overlooked. Preterm labor affects 1 in every 9 babies in the United States each year—that’s more than 450,000 infants. Prematurity accounts for more infant deaths than any other cause. It is also the leading cause of long-term neurological disabilities. Preterm births are any births before week 37 if pregnancy.
Approximately two-thirds of babies admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are premature babies.
One-third of all preterm births are a result of the preterm, premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).
Even babies born after week 30 of pregnancy often face moderate to severe respiratory, developmental, and intestinal issues, as well as brain bleeds. Any baby born before week 36 of gestation have weak immune systems, are especially prone to infections, might develop at a slower pace, have kidney issues, as well as vision and hearing problems among others.
We walk the March of Dimes walk as a family this year, not only for us and our baby but more for other families and babies affected by premature birth. Before having our daughter we knew nothing about this and as I chat with other mothers and fathers, I realized how much I have learned this year and how much I have grown as a person and as a mom.
It has been quite the year; what a journey, but I know other mothers, parents, families and babies have had it much much worse. I can’t even imagine and don’t even want to think about it, but it is important to spread awareness about prematurity. I know our experience changed us forever…but was just scratching the surface on what others have to go through delivering prematurely and caring for their children afterwards.
I want to thank everyone who was there with us and there for us this year, all of our amazing friends and our wonderful family. I want to thank all my friends who went to visit me (or dropped off or sent gifts and candy) during my hospital bed rest and those of you who came to see us in the NICU. Most of all I want to thank my mom who flew all the way from Sweden the second we needed her (taking care of everything including our son, dog and household) and stayed with us three months during my bed rest, baby’s NICU stay, my second hospital stay, our four weeks of isolation and beyond (and still keeps coming back!). I also want to thank my sister for taking off of work to fly over to help mom, to visit me for some laughs and sisterly bonding at the hospital and for driving our son to preschool! My dad came at the tail end of my Mom’s visit and he was a tremendous help with our almost three year old. I also got so many supportive messages, Skype calls and e-mails from my brother and tons of friends from Sweden. I’m so happy and thankful to have you all in my life!
I’m also thankful to all the awesome doctors, nurses and hospital staff who truly cared and worked so hard for us!
We are beyond lucky and blessed in every single way having this gorgeous, funny, smart, loving girl in all our lives. We love her more than words can possibly describe. She really truly is our perfect, perfect princess.
We love you Madeleine, our little miracle!