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Close up of mom smiling at her baby in an isolette

A Premature Birth: Grief and Joy

Author: Jessica Woolwine
Published Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Today my daughter Abby celebrates her 6th birthday. My sweet, spunky little girl has officially moved onto two hands to show her age.

Time … slow down!

Abby’s at school in her new birthday outfit: a cute dress, purple tights and silver sparkle shoes that match the silver bow in her hair.

She was giggly through cinnamon rolls for breakfast. She beamed as she opened her first birthday present. Walking to the bus stop, there was an extra bounce in her step. I can just picture her now at school with her birthday crown on … eyes twinkling … oh happy day.

It warms my heart and brings a smile to my face just thinking about her and how special she feels today, the day of her birth. Your birthday should be joyous, shouldn’t it?

For Abby, it is. Most of the time, I’m right there with her - smiling and matching her bounce, step for step.

But every year at this time, the week of her birth, I fight the blues. I mean it when I say I fight it. I try to ignore it. I get busy and push it away. But the thing about grief … it is sneaky… and it finds me anyway.

Grief? What can I be mourning when my child lived? It took me a long time to recognize that her premature birth was a form of loss.

I think back on that day and I only remember worry, fear and sadness. Abby was due on February 23rd and instead she came on November 9th. At the time, we didn’t know if she would live. For several weeks, that was the reality: touch and go.

I lost my pregnancy (four months early) but not the baby. I lost the excitement of a new addition. I lost the ability to mother my own child for four months.

That doesn’t mean I think of her in those terms.

It doesn’t mean I’m not thankful she’s here.

It doesn’t mean I can’t recognize the miracle of her survival.

And it doesn’t mean I harp on the negative and forget the happy ending.

My grief, sneaky as it is, means I went through something hard, unexpected and traumatic. It wasn’t what I’d planned or wanted or dreamed of.

But it happened and it changed me. Just like they do every November 9th, the tears came and they went. We’ve got celebrating to do!

Giggle on, sweet girl. Six never looked so good!

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About Jessica Woolwine

Jessica Woolwine is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (9), Abby (5) and Henry (1). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.