Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Holidays Through the Eyes of a Former Preemie

So much to be thankful for

As we near the holiday season, I can’t help but think about all of the things we are so very grateful for. Our pregnancy was far from perfect. But in hindsight our circumstances could have been far worse, our outcome far more dire. Not to diminish the significance of our 25 days in the NICU, but not once did I ever feel like my son’s life hung in the balance. That’s a luxury a lot of preemie & NICU parents don’t get.

The holidays give us a chance to spend time with family, feast, and reflect on our many blessings. While it is mostly a happy and festive time, in a bunch of ways it is bittersweet. When we first found out about our pregnancy, my father was beginning to lose his battle with cancer.

He was such a good man. He taught me so much about parenting by constantly reminding me how much he loved me. He was undoubtedly my biggest cheerleader. He helped me realize that it’s okay to show emotion and vulnerability. That mindset helped me get through the toughest days in the NICU. He was my hero in so many ways. He fought his battle with cancer hard, but ultimately he was brought home just a week before Christmas. Just over 5 months before Jayden was born.

I constantly am reminded of my father through my son. Moments where I can feel his big hugs and hear the sound his voice. I often wish I could speak to him for advice. Jayden’s speech development is coming along, but he still has a long road ahead of him.  He has the fire in his eyes. It makes me so proud to be his dad.

The holidays remind me of one very important thing: While we still have a long road ahead of us, we have come so far. I often look through the thousands of pictures we have of Jayden. To see how much he has grown is flabbergasting. To just watch him, slowly but steadily put the pieces of “life” together is such an amazing feeling as a parent. Pictures like the one above tell me he’s already figuring out something is special about this time of year. It’s so exciting to watch him grow. One day at a time.

 

Joel Brens About Joel Brens

As a father, Joel Brens (IL) wants to dispel the idea that dads can't be scared or emotional beings. His wife gave birth to their son via emergency c-section due to complications from diastolic umbilical artery flow at just under 33 weeks. Their son was born in May 2010 at 3lbs. 6oz. and spent 25 days in the NICU while his lungs developed and he learned to eat. Presently, he is undergoing evaluation for developmental and speech therapy but otherwise doing well. Community and support have been essential to Joel and his wife. You can connect with Joel on his Facebook page, via email or on his blog, Papas of Preemies.

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