I spent a lot of time during our NICU stay, as well as some time after we were home, battling thoughts in my mind of “Why us? Why did we have to go through that?” As a Christian, I knew there had to be some sort of lesson behind it and tried to figure out what that lesson was, or if I would ever know. We saw and experienced a lot, not just with our own child but through the eyes of other parents who suffered loss and illness of their sweet babies. Why was this happening to them?
I was once sharing these thoughts and emotions when Kylie was about 6 months old with a, what I like to call ‘Veteran Preemie Mommy’. She seemed to have this whole NICU thing behind her and was very involved with prematurity awareness. She seemed so strong, like her NICU experience had affected her, but it was in the past and she had defeated any fears or feelings she once had. I wanted that strength and determination to just move on but was not sure where she had found that kind of strength. She shared a poem with me that forever changed my outlook on being a preemie parent. As I read it, I saw the faces of my NICU mom friends.
I would like to share that poem with you now; I hope it brings some closure and peace to why YOU were chosen. I may not know the exact reason I was chosen but I am learning every day how time heals and how helpful to others it is now being able to share our stories through Preemie Babies 101.
How Preemie Moms Are Chosen
by Erma Bombeck
Did you ever wonder how the mothers of premature babies are chosen?
Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth, selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.
“Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew.
Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia.
Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint…give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”
Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles. “Give her a preemie.”
The angel is curious. “Why this one, God? She’s so happy.”
“Exactly,” smiles God. “Could I give a premature baby a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel.”
“But does she have the patience?” asks the angel.
“I don’t want her to have too much patience, or she’ll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she’ll handle it. I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has a world of its own. She has to make it live in her world, and that’s not going to be easy.”
“But Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.”
God smiles. “No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just the right amount of selfishness.”
The angel gasps, “Selfishness?! Is that a virtue?”
God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t know it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see– ignorance, cruelty, prejudice– and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.”
“And what about her patron saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in the air.
God smiles. “A mirror will suffice.”
Erma Bombeck (personal communication, July 2010)