My experience with pregnancy and the holidays started with my ﬁrst born. Caleb Ford Knickerbocker was born at 39 weeks, 6 days gestation on December 22, 2007. We were discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve, and I cannot even tell you what we did for that Christmas, since I have absolutely no recollection.
At one point in time, I thought that was a really sad story.
Fifteen weeks into my pregnancy with my daughter, I was enjoying Christmas with my husband’s family. This pregnancy had been rather difﬁcult, and I was feeling ill, but I was trying to savor every possible moment of the holidays. Something wasn’t right, though, and I was literally dragged to the Emergency Room by my husband. And when my blood work results came back showing kidney and liver failure from dehydration, he was vindicated. I was admitted, had a PICC line placed, and was discharged, with nearly $400/day in IV medications to take.
Again, I thought that was a pretty horriﬁc way to spend the holidays.
At 23 weeks, my water broke, and our entire family was introduced to the world of the NICU. We spent a little over 200 days in the NICU with our daughter, Charlotte Amalie.
We spent our anniversary, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day in the NICU, but we broke free early enough to spend the “holiday season” at home. Our ﬁrst holiday season as a family of four was littered with re-admissions to the hospital, and sprinkled with doctor appointments and therapy sessions, but we were home.
And through it all, I could only think of those who weren’t.
Those families who were still spending their days by an isolette. The families who were trekking back and forth to the hospital, juggling work and home and hospital in their daily routines. Those families who felt so overwhelmed and alone, as we so often did, in the NICU.
That is horriﬁc. That is a really sad story.
So we put a call out to family and friends and asked them to send some holiday cards for us to share with the families in our local NICU. Cards which would let them know they weren’t alone in spirit, even if they felt isolated in person. Just a little something. And they poured in. From Girls Scout Troops to daycare centers to family projects, cards from across the nation came.
We have continued to share our support for families in the NICU each year, and Jessi was so kind to allow us to invite you all to join in. We’re collecting greeting cards for the Naval Medical Center San Diego NICU, as well as gift cards for gasoline, food, and other baby items. This year, we are also expanding the project to include presents for siblings of babies in the NICU.
For more information, you can check out our Holiday Card Project Page, on our blog, Understanding Prematurity.
Thank you for joining us in this effort to reach out, and give our preemie parents a giant hug. From all of us.