As moms, sometimes we look around and think, “I need a merit badge for all the things I’ve survived!”
I totally agree!
I am a three-time preemie mom who has survived three bouts of preeclampsia, saying goodbye to one baby born too soon and enduring two multiple-month NICU stays with countless bottles of pumped breast milk spilled or left in my purse. And I’d like a merit badge for surviving (and thriving) through those experiences, thank you very much!
But let me back up.
When I was in the hospital for a week with preeclampsia after delivering my daughter, Olivia, at 31 weeks, I was often alone and extremely scared. With constant checkups on my vitals, I didn’t have much time to rest. So I Googled—like we do, am I right?
She wasn’t my first preemie. In fact, she was my third. I had severe preeclampsia and delivered my first baby at 20 weeks, who did not survive. My daughter, Natalie, was born two years later at 32 weeks because of another onset of preeclampsia. You’d think I’d know what I was doing by the third time, right?
Searching for answers
Still as scared as ever, I turned to social media on those long days when I could not hold my preemie and needed validation that she would be okay. I needed to hear from others that it was normal for pumping to be hard and that—YES!—those two drops were worth it. To read from other 31-week mommies (and 29-week mommies and 24-week mommies) that the chances of survival for Olivia were good. I wanted to read the science that proved their assertions. I wanted to know the risk factors. And I was comforted to know I wasn’t alone.
With each of my babies, I was reluctant to complain or talk to anyone about these experiences. Any time I did, especially with my first baby, I felt tremendously guilty and shameful. I’ve always wanted a community that has been hard to find in real life. So I may be biased, but I think being a preemie mom should earn you a merit badge. Maybe there are others that feel the same way?
Here we are!
That’s how Preemie Mom Camp came to be.
I wanted to create a place for preemie moms to go for information, tips, tricks, contributed content and medical research geared toward the preemie mom searching for comfort and community—a campground to connect with others who have had similar experiences.
Look, do preemie dads deserve credit, too? Of course! And preemie grandparents, preemie siblings, extended preemie family and friends of preemies. There will be content on Preemie Mom Camp for them, too.
But I have a special place in my heart for preemie moms. We’re campers on this bumpy trail together—and we’re earning merit badges along the way.
Are you in, Campers?!
This may sound crazy, but I’d like for us to have a group name. Can we be Campers who earn random, hilarious, sometimes sad, but mostly awesome merit badges along the way?
- Waiting more than a week to hold your baby for the first time – MERIT BADGE!
- Measuring your baby’s diapers on a scale (grams in; grams out!) – MERIT BADGE!
- Pumping those first few drops of liquid gold for your preemie – MERIT BADGE!
- Changing diapers around cords and monitors – MERIT BADGE!
- Learning to convert milliliters to ounces (milk measurement, anyone?) – MERIT BADGE!
Let’s have some fun! Share your merit badge ideas in the comments below.