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

Perfectly Imperfect

Life is funny. It can change in the blink of an eye and the world  that you have pictured as perfect can suddently become imperfect, or so it seems. Life is a journey and you never know where your path may lead. Sometimes the most unexpected places you pass along the road of life are among the greatest blessings.

It was a Wednesday morning back in February  of 2006 when I found out that the second child I was carrying was a girl. At that moment in time it felt as though our family was going to be complete and the dream of having a son and a daughter was becoming my reality. The next four months were filled with eager anticipation as I envisioned every little detail of our soon to be family of four, planning the places we would go and the things we would do together. Many a dream was had about the relationship that would evolve between my son Cameron (who was two at the time) and his little sister (to be named Brooklyn). I pictured the countless hours that would be spent making memories in our home while hearing my children playing, reading with each other, talking, arguing and many other very typical sibling things. This was my idea of the perfect family.

Little did I know that four short months after we had given a name to the baby girl I was carrying that my vision of the perfect family would be shattered and a journey filled with paths of difficult and sometimes what would seem to be unbearable challenges would begin. Little did I know that the journey being laid out would also be blessed with the kind of hope, courage, strength and faith that before would have seemed completely our of reach.

Our daughter Brooklyn came barreling into our lives one sunny Friday morning in June, six weeks earlier than expected. Born with a fighting spirit, Brooklyn was determined to meet every challenge she faced during her month long stay in the hospital NICU. Learning how to breathe on her own, how to eat and how to adjust to a world outside the womb that her body was not prepared to enter were just a few of her NICU tasks. Living in what seemed to be a fog, days and nights seemd to blend together as my time was split between the hospital and my home where I tried to make sure that my son Cameron was taken care of and that as normal of a routine as possible was maintained. Life was overwhelming to say the least and the guilt I was experiencing as a result of either being at the hospital or at home, but never being with both of my children at the same time was excruciating.

In one short month, I learned more than I ever dreamed or ever wanted to know about preemies. So many days I wished for an off button to shut out the sounds of the monitors, the cries from the infants and the conversations between the hospital staff and other parents that filled my head eight hours every single day. In these moments my thoughts would shift back and forth between Brooklyn and Cameron. How I wished that I could reverse time somehow and change our newfound reality. I wondered if Cameron thought that he had been abandoned or if his mommy loved him anymore because I wasn’t at home to play with him and participate in our daily routines together the way we had for the last two years. Many a tear was shed because my son’s life had been turned upside down.

Our NICU journey was only the beginning of what would be the most challenging family experience yet. On January 30, 2006 exactly six months after Brooklyn’s unexpected early arrival, our family received a diagnosis that would forever change our world. We learned that Brooklyn had suffered from a lack of oxygen to the brain at some point during my pregnancy causing a significant amount of damage resulting in not only her premature birth, but also a disorder known as Cerebral Palsy. As I struggled to understand and accept what we were facing I realized that not only was my world being impacted, but that our son’s world was and would forever be changed as a result.

It is often said that a situation such as this changes people positively or negatively, but that no one ever remains the same. I decided that regardless of my journey I was going to do everything in my control to make sure that Cameron would end up on the positive side of that change and that our family would remain strong. At that point I dedicated myself to learning how to best help and support my daughter, and to begin a graduate program that would give me the tools I needed to support my son Cameron and other siblings facing similar situations.

I would do anything to take away my daughter’s struggles, to give her the ability to speak and to rid my family of the many challenges that have and will continue to come from our travels down a very uncertain and unexpected road, but I would never change the personal transformation that has occured. My healing, learning, growth, passion, drive and dedication have come from watching Brooklyn’s determination to defy the odds and from my son Cameron and the promise I made to myself to make sure that he always knows he is loved, important and special, too!

Life is a journey and you never know where your path may lead. Sometimes the unexpected places we end up passing are among the greatest blessings. The journey I have encountered as a result of Brookyn’s condition has been unexpected, but has brought with it some of the greatest rewards. I continue to embrace my role as Brooklyn’s mom, and as a family we continue to grow, love, learn and redefine who we are among the “typical” American families of today.

Laura Romero About Laura Romero

Laura Romero (TX) is the mother of two children, including a daughter who was born at 33 weeks and diagnosed with cerebral palsy at six months of age. She spent a little over a month in the NICU. Laura is a passionate advocate for children with disabilities and for the support of the siblings of these children. She is currently a Family and Sibling Support Navigator and Helping Hand Volunteer Program Coordinator for Hand to Hold, a national NICU family support nonprofit.

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