World Prematurity Awareness Day.
So today is World Prematurity Awareness Day and as I sat down to write something about it I started thinking about what ‘awareness’ actually means.
Does it mean being aware that prematurity happens?
Or being aware of the affect it has on families?
Or is it about taking a moment to stop and think that sometimes something as ‘natural’ as having a baby, which millions of woman do, can go so completely crazily wrong for so many?
All of the above?
I’m only one person. One mum. But this is what this day means to me.
I knew the word prematurity before this. I’d worked in the NICU, I’d seen the tiny babies and watched them struggle. I’d seen the faces of the parents and felt for them, I’d watched the tiredness saturate them. But it wasn’t mine. Prematurity and I were colleagues, not family. Part of my life, but not my life.
Now the word prematurity is carved into my bones. It’s in the lines on my face, and the paleness of my skin. I taste it when I lick my lips and I can smell it in the air. I see it when I first open my eyes in the morning and it wraps itself around me when I get into bed at night. We are married now, prematurity and I.
It hits you like a truck and drags you along the concrete until your hands are bleeding and your skin is raw. It drains the fluid from your body like that inescapable summer heat, when it doesn’t matter how much you drink, your mouth is still dry. It takes the air from the room and leaves you gasping for breath. It holds on tight and it doesn’t let go.
But as much as it tugs my eyes to the ground and makes me so weary I want to drown, it also makes me push my shoulders back and hold my head up high. It gives me ground to stand on when the waves get heavy and it pulls me up out of bed in the morning. It gives me rainbows after rain and sunshine through the clouds and now that it is a part of me, I know I couldn’t live without it.
It is so entwined through me and my children, like a stream of purple flowing through our veins.
Prematurity meant I watched my children grow when I shouldn’t have been able to. It meant I had to lose a dream, to let go of my child and spend a life without him. It meant I had to watch his brother struggle and fight, succeed and conquer. It meant I had to grieve, everyday, for so many different things. And it meant I had something to fight for, ferociously, forever.