Technically speaking, November is Prematurity Awareness Month in the U.S. I don't need to tell my loyal readers, though, that every month in our house is Prematurity Awareness Month. Every month, we deal with the after effects of having a very premature and very, extremely, off-the-charts low-birth-weight child. And I am pleased as punch to have the privilege of experiencing these after effects. We came too close to much worse. So every month we grieve a little - whether it's as simple as acknowledging that we can't take Becca to the mall to pose on Santa's germy lap or as complicated as weighing the risks of having another preemie when planning our family. But, thank God, every month -- every day, really -- we celebrate the fact that Becca's early and tumultuous debut did not cost her life.
If you are reading this post, chances are you know Becca's story. If you need a refresher, glance over at the picture on the right, and remember that what you are looking at was Becca's best case scenario. I'm not going to try to make you cry or break your heart tonight, because I know that by walking this journey with us, you have glimpsed just how heart-breaking it is to go through the trauma of a (wrong!) terminal diagnosis and extremely early delivery. You know that for 11 weeks, I carried our child knowing full well that she wasn't supposed to make it. You know that she spent the first 123 days of her life in the hospital. You know that she still has special needs that we work hard to accommodate. You know all of this.
But here's what I know coming out of this experience: I don't want anybody to go through what we experienced. Yes, it was worth it, and yes, if it meant having our Itty Bitty, I would do it again in a heartbeat. And personally, I know that I have learned valuable lessons from our experiences. But if I sit right here at my desk and think of the people that I like the least in this world -- and yes, even as a preacher, there are people that I don't like very much at all (but not you, of course, and I assure you that I am working on the others as well) -- I know that I would do all that I can to make sure that they don't have to live through this nightmare. No parent ought to have to collect ultrasound pictures to frame because they are likely to be the only live photos of their child. No mother should have to beg and plead with an anesthesiologist to be able to stay awake during her c-section because she didn't want to miss out on the only 2-3 minutes of her child's life. Nobody deserves such pain. Nobody.
Unfortunately, though, over 45,000 U.S. babies will be born preterm just this November. You can bet that their families will be aware of prematurity this month.
And so I'm asking your help. Like I said, November is national Prematurity Awareness Month, so of course the fabulous March of Dimes has a campaign for it, called "Banding Together." I've created a virtual band in honor of Becca, and I invite you to band together with us by making a donation in her honor. All you have to do is click here to donate. And as an added bonus, if you donate with a MasterCard, they will double your donation! It's that easy to give twice as much, so even if you can only give $5, go for it - because, as my friend Dr. Hinman taught me, 5x2=10, but 0x0=0. (And if you don't have a MasterCard but would still like to double your gift -- and you trust us! -- you can send us a check for the amount of your donation, and we'll be happy to charge it to our MasterCard.)
You've made a difference in the life of our precious preemie. Here's a chance to make a difference in the life of another. And since preterm birth can happen to anyone, who knows - the baby (or grandbaby or niece or cousin) you save could be your own! (My apologies to Flannery O'Connor on that one...though I have to think that even she would smile at the image below. The Paper Bag Princess is definitely a stellar piece of short fiction.)
Disclaimer: When the March for Babies rolls around again in April, I'm sure I'll be soliciting for funds again. We even have big plans to sell special t-shirts. Many of you gave in April, so if you are once a year type people, know that I'll come cyber-knocking again. But there's nothing wrong with giving twice a year, especially when MasterCard is going to double your gift!