We celebrated a special family milestone this week: following 95 days in neonatal hospital care, our prematurely born daughter Talia passed her 95th day at home.
191 days before this milestone, I was a different person. Walking with blind faith through a seemingly ordinary first pregnancy, I knew nothing about prematurity, had never heard of CPAP or NEC or ROP, wouldn’t have known a bradycardia from the Brady Bunch, and had never experienced the indescribably gut-wrenching fear of losing a child almost before its life had properly begun.
Today I am the mother of a petite, smiling daughter who should only be three months old, not six. Looking back on the extra three months of daily hospital visits, I remember urging my little scrap of humanity to survive, anxiously checking for any gain in her weight, increase in her milk intake or improvement in her breathing, and I realise just how much further families of prem babies need to travel in order to arrive at the same place as families with healthy full term babies. It is an emotional journey on rough roads through strange territory, navigated via heart-rate and oxygen monitors, and not a few prayers. This neonatal landscape has changed us forever, left its shadow on our hearts, and opened our eyes to fears and wonders never before encountered.
After 95 long days, one journey finished and a new one began. We have been blessed twice over, both with the life of our child and with all we have experienced and learned about her incredible survival.