Friday, January 4, 2013


Yesterday I had the opportunity to share Jack's story with a large group of ladies who get together twice a month. The group is part of MOPS - which I think stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. I had been asked to speak last fall, but we couldn't work it out with Jon's schedule (someone needs to be able to watch Jack) and so when they asked me again, we made sure to make it happen. Jack's story needs to be shared.

As I was preparing my talk, I kept on asking myself if I was ready. I have blogged a lot about Jack's early birth and my emotions surrounding it. And I have talked with friends and family through all of it. But I have never gotten up and shared. It would leave me very vulnerable and I was worried about my emotions and afraid that I would, well I'll be honest, cry the whole way through. The emotions I have are both so sad and so joyous and I feel them so deeply. But I didn't want to get up there and just bumble my way through sobs and tears. 

So I started to prepare my talk this past weekend. I thought about what I was willing to share, to put out there, and how best to do it. One thing I learned when teaching is people need something to either 1) have in their hands or 2) look at. Plain and simple, it just helps people keep focus. So I decided to bring along Jack's teeny tiny preemie diaper from the NICU to pass around and I put together a picture slide show that could be projected for everyone to see. Then all I needed to do was tell our story. Make it like I was sitting down for coffee with a good friend, just chatting. 

The night before I spoke, I felt like I had prepared everything and was as ready as I could be. I was going to bed at a decent hour and was hoping to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. Well, life got in the way of that little dream... or should I say, Jack got in the way. I had just tucked myself into bed with a good book, when Jon came in holding a sick looking Jack. He said "uh Jack just puked all over" and "he feels feverish". I've got to be honest. I was like "really?!" On all nights to get sick, it has to be the one where I have to speak the next morning? So we stayed up all night with a pretty sick Jack. No sleep, really. It's been quite awhile since I've pulled an all-nighter, then gotten myself somewhat presentable, out the door, to my speaking engagement. Wait. That's never happened.

As I was driving into town, I was repeating the mantra "Starbucks makes it all better, Starbucks makes it all better" which actually, is quite true in pretty much about every situation. I needed it to make my brain work. Through the drive-thru I went (tall, nonfat mocha) and made it to my destination on time, which is amazing in itself. 

At this point I was so exhausted, but as ready as I could be. I was happy to see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. There were lots of cute babies to look at, which made it even more fun. I was getting kind of excited/jittery. The coffee? Yeah, probably. But I really was excited to speak. The crowd looked so friendly and open to what I was going to say. 

I got up to the podium to speak and everything was going fine until I got to this picture in the slide show.

I've seen this one thousands of times. It's Jack's little hand up against my fingers. I always knew it was such a powerful shot, but I seriously LOST IT. Tears gushing out. I actually said "give me a second" and my mind was racing. Must. Stop. Crying... yeah, it was pretty much the culmination of no sleep, nerves, sadness and joy. I was embarrassed, but as I thought more about it (after the fact), all those extreme emotions, they mirror the ones that go along with having a baby born way, way too early. Sadness and joy. Nerves and no sleep. 

So I made it through my talk, but I shed lots of tears. And when I looked out into the crowd, they were shedding them right along with me. Sometimes you just can't keep your composure and that's OK.

-originally published on April 21, 2011. Republished today as part of our Flashback Friday series. 
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Mary said...

How awesome! I haven't had to publicly speak about my micropreemie yet and I know it would be very emotional. Kuddos to you for having the courage to do it!
PS. Starbucks does make everything feel better!

Jackie said...

SO know that same feeling! Just shared our testimony with a local MOPS's group myself in November and was NOT prepared for the emotion. Hugs!

Twintrospectives said...

Thank you for sharing. No matter how long ago the preterm birth, I feel, we,as moms who lived the experience will never forget those raw emotions, nor forget the scenes, scents or sounds of those trying times. The first time I spoke publicly about our 27 weeker twins was on live television for 15 minutes, while holding one and a friend holding the other. I got choked up a couple of times, but those in the studio were so warm and real, I got over it quickly. Love your blogs. Thanks again for sharing.

Julie said...

I think there is something very powerful in sharing our stories. Even though you might have felt very vulnerable up there with your emotions and your story so evident, I bet every single lady in that audience saw you as brave and strong. I was also relieved to see that this was a flashback and that Jack is not currently sick because I MISS HIM and I need to see him Tuesday. :) Should I bring starbucks? :)

Jaimie said...

That is so neat that you got to share your story to a MOPS. I am was the play date coordinator at mine, and had to step down because of Karsen but still go. What an amazing story/testament you have to share.

0be229ee-57b4-11e2-b7cc-000bcdcb5194 said...

I found your blog after Christmas 2012 and have been catching up with Life with Jack. I read it almost as a book and it has been a real tear jerker, sad and happy. Jack is such a handsome fella, I am partial to sweet handsome boys as I have two of my own. Your growth on this journey has been amazing as well as your strength! Life is such a grey thing, even though we wish for those black and white choices. We all have to do what we feel is best for us at the time, hindsight just makes us question our decisions, whether they are major or minor. Blessings to you, Jack and your sweet hubby in 2013. I pray that Jack will continue amazing us with new accomplishments!