Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Reliving the Preemie Experience

In the last year I have been volunteering my time to speak with parents who are going through similar NICU stays.  Parents of gravely ill babies born way too early.  It has been rewarding and even sometimes really hard. 

More than six years after the premature birth of my boys, my very healthy and happy children, I can still be pulled back into the nightmare, the horror that is prematurity.

The families that I have worked with were wonderful.  They've all had that perfect mix of fight and fright.  Never too optimistic, never too down.  You have to be that way with the prospect of a prolonged NICU stay. It has been a great experience, and I really enjoy working with them, but they are essentially strangers, it is easier somehow.

In the last 30+ days I have been too close to prematurity again.

34 days ago, a friend, a former NICU friend, gave birth to her son, prematurely. In a country that admits to being 15 years behind the US in their neonatal medicine.  At 26 weeks.  I know 26 weeks so intimately. Her son, was only 1 pound 7 ounces.  Even more Micro than my Micros He has already had a brain bleed and NEC,  however on the positive side, he is sprinting, and his lungs seem to be doing so much better than my 26 weekers.  Everyday she posts an update on Facebook.  Everyday I hold my breath as I read it.  I know so well how quickly something can change.  NEC -- That scares me so much.  We escaped its wrath, but each time I read that they are increasing his feeds, or that his belly is a little distended, I cringe.  She is so positive, and strong, and guardedly optimistic.  In the first few days I would scream at the computer at all of her other friends congratulations, and positivity.  Only someone who has been through all the ups and downs can know how painful congratulations can be.

Just last week another preemie was born to a friend of the family.  27/6. Preeclampsia.  It all comes back so strongly. Every up and down. Every milestone.  First skin to skin. First feed. This boy is doing really well.  So far no major issues.  I am holding my breath, can you tell?

As much as I want to know what is happening with these babies, it is hard. I am trying to follow "casually". Maybe it is a protective wall. I worry about these friends.  Every day.  My heart aches for them. Every day. Their babies get stronger. Every day.

and maybe I do too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BlogHer Book Club: Daring Greatly

Brene Brown's Daring Greatly delves into the notion that vulnerability is at the core of all things.  Vulnerability and the way we either embrace it, or hide from it, influences our happiness and how we live.

I have to admit that non-fiction is really not my favorite genre.  There are many reasons, one important one is that I am a skimmer.  I typically read very fast.  I gloss over many of the words and just focus on the meat.  However, when reading non-fiction, that is nearly impossible.  Another reason I rarely read non-fiction is time.  I have very little of it, reading is a luxury, a stolen moment, something I wish I could do more of, but with two little kids, who always want me to read to them, very rarely do I read a book without pictures.  When I do get those glorious moments of uninterrupted reading time, well, they are in about 5 minute increments.  Waiting for my kids to be let out of school, or waiting in line somewhere, or right before I fall asleep.  So, reading non-fiction in those few stolen moments, skimming the way I do, means I do not fully digest the meat. It's easy to follow along with fiction, eventually I remember what happened 40 pages and 4 days ago, however with non-fiction, it is like starting all over again.

So with Daring Greatly, I have to say I struggled.  Oh, did I struggle.  I took notes. I highlighted. I re-read and re-read. Don't get me wrong, Ms. Brown is an engaging writer!  She has many important and interesting ideas, I just have twenty million other things swirling around in my brain and I had difficulty keeping up!

There are a few things that really stood out for me. The whole idea of Daring Greatly, of abandoning shame and allowing ones self to be vulnerable, is an interesting concept.  Brene Brown defines vulnerability as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk. Why would anyone want to put it all out there, to be that exposed? She states, "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage". Ultimately allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to be exposed, opens us up to find that knowledge that we are worthy.

Shame is the emotion that keeps us from living wholeheartedly.  Shame is the emotion that makes it impossible for us to embrace vulnerability.  What spoke to me most was the chapter about child rearing and shame.  How do we raise children to live wholeheartedly, with out shame? What are the things we can do or say to remove shame from our children's lives? Since these childhood experiences shape who we are, can we as parents give tools to our kids to make them adults who know they are worthy, knowing they are enough?

I am sure that I will be revisiting this book, returning to areas as I continue to raise my children.  There were many examples and ideas that I want to read again, and try to absorb more fully.  I believe this is a book that can be used as a reference manual to life.

This has been a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed were all mine.