I am not an amazing person in any sense of the word. I don’t have deep thoughts, convictions or ideas very different than most other people. I have lived a (mostly) normal run of the mill life. I grew up in a large family, I went to college, I married, I graduated from college and we started our own family. I am humbled to say that I have, and hopefully continue to, easily become pregnant. But during my second pregnancy I delivered our daughter prematurely at 35 weeks and endured 14 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I know this is not a long stay compared to many. But the day our Abigail was born was the same 24 hours where she almost passed from acute respiratory distress syndrome. For me, it truly was my refiner’s fire. Never in my life did I imagine the completely hopeless and helpless feeling of having a very ill child. But she was truly a miracle. And today, despite an unhealthy addiction to butter, is as healthy as a horse.

Enter my 3rd pregnancy. We knew that someday along the road of around 30+ weeks I would have to take things easy seeing as I was now the awful term of “high risk.” We knew it wouldn’t be a regular pregnancy with me nesting, painting, organizing and scrubbing the months away at the end. But never did we know just how much we would give for our Phoebe.

I considered myself healthy. I was training for another marathon, I was gardening, I was walking miles to the library and running around the jungle gym with my kids and taking ballet classes at night (a former passion). I was happy. And then…the cramping began. The mind-numbing, eye-blinding, first-day-of-your-period cramping. Some say we took things too seriously after that; some say that babies come when they come and there is nothing you can do about it.

I say those people have never had a deathly sick preemie.

The anxiety and stress that ensued with such early cramping was crippling. I went on bed rest, complete pelvic rest (poor hubby) and took awful medications for 20 weeks. I cried myself to sleep countless nights; only to be woken up in more pain. It was all so very worth it though when I delivered a full term and healthy baby girl. I believe any other mother who has been in the NICU would agree, it was all worth it.

When people learn of the struggles this pregnancy presented, they ask me how I did it. And I tell them, I didn’t do it at all. My family, friends and neighbors did. Now, I am not a sentimental person in any way, shape, or form and am known to sing Barney songs in my head at funerals to keep from crying. But when I look at my beautiful Phoebe’s face, I can’t help but think of all of the women who helped me. I squeeze her chubby arms and legs and see them bringing warm meals into my kitchen, scrubbing my toilet, vacuuming my floors, playing with my children, dropping off movies and books and countless issues of magazines for me to pour over. I have never felt so much love and the power of selfless service in my life.

My phoebe is a gift from countless women. Women, who not only cared, but cared and showed it. And I will never, no never, no never, forget what they did for my family, my Phoebe and me.

Ever.

From Annie of Pretty Witty Cheerful.
image by Lorena Avance, via Mary Ruffle — it reminded me of caring and serving.

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Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I’ll be posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here. I’d love to hear your story or memory or advice, feel free to submit it to gabrielle@designmom.com.