Covered in White Feathers

When I was younger I was pro-choice.

Well, maybe not pro-choice because that implies I actually was an activist and involved in the issue and I really wasn’t. I suppose you could say I was more of the pro-it’s-none-of-my-business-don’t-bug-me-I’m-busy-crowd which looking back wasn’t much better. Then I became pregnant with my first child in late 2004 at the ripe old age of 31 and while it was terrifying, I was excited and determined to be the best pregnant woman ever. I read every book, was religious about seeing my doctor and took any and all advice and pointers to heart. I refused to eat deli meat or sushi, would glare at anyone who dared to smoke within a mile of me – I even avoided the microwave for fear that it would hurt the baby.

See? Most amazing pregnant woman EVER.

Then in June of 2005, right before my 32nd birthday, my water broke at 26 weeks which if you know anything about the typical gestation is 14 weeks too early. We were on the road for my birthday actually, my husband’s gift was supposed to have been a 3-D ultrasound of our little girl. Instead I woke up in our hotel room covered in fluid, and knowing something was definitely not right, my husband rushed me to a local ER. When we arrived at the hospital they quickly determined I was in preterm labor and would need to remain on bed rest there in the hospital until the baby was born.

Every day in that hospital was nearly unbearable, being afraid to go into labor at any moment but knowing I couldn’t go home until the baby was born. She stayed put for 17 days after my water broke and then Miss Daisy decided it was time to make her grand entrance. Born at 28 ½ weeks, weighing 2 lbs 8 oz (which is not quite as big as a large soda at McDonald’s) and measuring 15 ¼” long, she came into this world covered in beautiful white hair that almost looked like feathers.  I remember staring at her on the warming bed in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and thinking she looked like a tiny angel.

Soon after she was born I became so angry at everyone around me including God. I had done everything I was supposed to do so why me? One doctor tried to console me by saying they didn’t know why some babies came early and they had some women who did crack and drank nothing but Mountain Dew® and their kids were just fine which honestly made me angrier.

Every day I would watch her in her isolette, praying the alarms didn’t go off, wondering what I had done wrong – how could I have let this little girl down? It was a very dark time for me personally, between the stress of watching my newborn in the NICU and feeling responsible for her early arrival. Then one day about a month after Daisy had been born, I was sitting in the NICU reading to her when this lovely woman just started talking to me out of the blue. She had been in the NICU before and was telling me about her children and I couldn’t help it, I started crying. I asked her what I had done wrong and she took my hand and said quietly, “Sam, don’t be angry at yourself. God chooses the parents of premature children very carefully. There’s a reason he chose you.”

The moment she spoke those simple words my world changed and I realized she was right. God chose me for a very specific reason and that reason was not so I would sit in the NICU feeling sorry for myself and resenting pregnant woman. No, the reason He chose me was to champion the unborn and be a voice for the innocent, which I have become. Watching so many babies fight to live because they did indeed want to live and they were in fact tiny little people not “clumps of cells,” those memories fuel me every day when dealing with those who advocate for unlimited abortion and disregard these very human lives. For as long as I am able, I will be a voice for those who cannot speak up for or defend themselves.

Daisy will be 9-years-old in July and is an amazing little girl who reads books I didn’t read until high school, who empathizes with every person she comes in contact with, who terrorizes her little brother, and who sings like a bird. She has no memory of this time in the NICU, for which I am grateful, but it has stayed with and changed me forever…in a good way. I am a better person for being her mom.

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