It was a quiet room, the only sound a rhythmic beep and the hum of medical equipment. Inside a small isolette was a tiny baby, wires and tubes covering her body. As I looked at her, I fell into a trance, a haze of confusion and fear consumed me. My baby girl was fighting for her life. But as I looked at her frail body, I saw fierce strength and determination. My daughter helped me become stronger, thanks to her preemie power.
It’s something most parents are not prepared for, but premature birth is a reality for hundreds of thousands of babies every year in the U.S.
I always knew I was meant to be a mother and I pictured a healthy pregnancy with three beautiful newborns to cradle. But life took a drastic turn when I went into labor more than 17 weeks premature. My triplets were born at 22 weeks gestation, on the edge of viability and weighing just one pound each. Within hours, my firstborn passed away. Two months later, our son followed her to Heaven.
While most new parents spend their sleepless nights in a home nursery, my husband and I found ourselves in uncharted territory. Every waking hour was spent in the neonatal intensive care unit, a place we called home for nearly four months. It’s a place where life is measured by minutes and hours, where the sounds of a newborn are masked by alarms.
But within the walls of the NICU, miracles happen every day. The smallest and sickness babies face more medical challenges than many adults face in a lifetime. Yet, their so-called “preemie power” helps them persevere. My surviving triplet waited more than two weeks to open her eyes. She received endless blood transfusions and spent nearly two months intubated, her weak lungs needing maximum oxygen to make it through each day. She faced countless obstacles like a hole her heart and emergency eye surgery, but through it all, she didn’t give up.
As the weeks turned into months, I watched my miracle daughter transform before our eyes. That frail little baby was growing by leaps and bounds. And along the way, my child was teaching me more than I ever thought possible. As I grieved the loss of two of our babies, my survivor gave me hope. She taught me to never give up, even when the odds are stacked against you. She reminded me to appreciate life, for you never know what tomorrow may bring. And she showed me that strength isn’t measured by your size, that being brave comes in all different shapes and sizes.
My surviving triplet’s difficult journey is now a distant memory. She will always be a preemie and we know she could face struggles down the road, but we live our lives cautiously optimistic. We often look back to those early days, where she teetered on the edge of life and death. She fought hard to be with us. And her strong, spunky personality is proof of that more than five years later. As I watch her blossom before our eyes, I’m reminded of how far I have come. In my weakest moments, my daughter gave me strength. She gave me hope when I felt lost. And she helped me find laughter and happiness when I felt buried in grief. My daughter is my hero, and as I watch her conquer every obstacle in her path, I know her preemie power will guide the way.