I remember the first one, the original day that Emilyn and Hailey were supposed to be born on. I had been preparing blankets and tiny hats to donate to the local hospital for other families who, like us, had to say goodbye to their babies. Molly, our nurse who helped deliver the girls, happened to be working that day and it was to her we delivered the special packages right outside of the room that my world fell apart in. Praying that they would sit on the shelves unused. I should have been in the exhausted bliss of caring for newborn twins, instead I was reliving the memories of holding them in their last moments four and a half months prior after being born too premature to even make it into a NICU. I was unbearably lost, I didn't know who I was anymore. I had always wanted to be a mother, but my first chance had been ripped away from me, and I wasn't sure I would ever get another chance given the fertility challenges we had faced. I remember blogging every single day back then, it was the only way that I survived, it was the only place that I felt normal.
Almost five years have gone by since their first due date and my life has changed in so many ways, I've come so far. I read those words I wrote in the aftermath of my world imploding and am shocked that I survived. How can anyone survive saying goodbye to their child or children? I still don't know, and yet I did it, am doing it. A little over a year after we lost them their brother Elim was born at an amazing 38 weeks gestation after sixteen weeks of bedrest and two hospital admissions for preterm labor. Then one week shy of my girls' fourth birthday their little sister Isla was born after a pristine pregnancy at past 40 weeks gestation, I never would have dreamed I would get a 40 weeker after what I went through with my first two pregnancies! They are my life. Motherhood isn't always pretty, but it is always amazing and always cherished because I know what it is like to lose it all, how quick things can happen.
In two days my girls should have been five, if they had been born on their due date instead of four and a half months before. I had wanted to finally get my memorial tattoo for them but the artist was already booked. Instead something better came up, a chance for me to let their voices be heard. I had intended to go to Advocacy Day at the state capitol a couple of months ago but a winter storm delayed it and it was rescheduled to April 15th, Emilyn and Hailey's due date. I don't think it's a coincidence, yet another "hey mommy" from my girls. It couldn't be more clear what I have to do, for them, for me and for every other mom that I hope will never follow in my footsteps. I'll be their voice, to show how much more work has to be done to one day end premature birth, to ensure every baby is born healthy and on time.
Two weeks after Advocacy Day I'll walk for the fifth year in a row at March for Babies. It's my constant, something I will always participate in. By showing up I raise awareness about the devastating effects that prematurity has and showing that no one is immune. I raise money to help research ways to end prematurity. It's a day that I am always recognized as Emilyn and Hailey's mom too. I walk in the hopes that one day there won't be a need to walk anymore because maybe one day prematurity, birth defects, and infant loss will be a thing of the past. Until then, I'll be there.