Happy Birthday — A NICU Journey
November 17, 1991
Isaac — 685 grams (1 pound 8 ounces), 30.5 cm (12 inches)
Molly — 750 grams (1 pound 10.5 ounces), 33 cm (13 inches)
Nineteen years ago today, I gave birth to twins Isaac and Molly. Happy birthday, my babies, you’ve come a long, long way.
After fertility treatments and a difficult pregnancy, we were terrified to meet them that Sunday evening. It was too soon and they were too small. But they were here, ensconced in the Infant Special Care Unit (the neonatal unit, or NICU) of Evanston Hospital. The day after they were born, the Parent-to-Parent support group of the unit gave us two small journals, one for each baby. Though a writer, I had never successfully kept a journal or diary for more than a few days, but that was about to change.
At first, I used the journals as a place to record the facts and keep things straight: who weighed what, which baby was getting what medications, who were the nurses and doctors taking care of them, what tests were run that day. Pretty quickly, though, the journals turned into a daily note from me to each baby. I still recorded the important information, but I also noted how I was feeling and what was happening in our family, as well as the occasional pep talk.
Isaac and Molly have never seen these journals. I’m not sure they even know about them. I offer them here as a birthday gift to them, so that they never forget their tenuous beginnings and how strong they really are. I also offer them as hope to parents whose babies are still on their journey through preemie-hood. I wish I had had this kind of information and support when my babies were sick.
These journal entries are not the whole story. They aren’t really even the beginning of the story, just a 13-and-a-half-week roller coaster ride we took together a long time ago — a time that still seems like yesterday to me.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month and today, November 17, is the 8th Annual National Prematurity Awareness Day. Coincidence? We think not.
Here are a few facts you should know about prematurity:
- 543,000 babies – 1 in 8 – are born prematurely each year
- Premature birth is the number 1 killer of newborns.
- Premature babies cost 10 times more than healthy babies.
For more information on prematurity and how you can help prevent it, visit the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign.