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  • Writer's pictureEbony J. Ford

Sticks & Stones May Feel Better Than This Part One...

Happy New Year Everyone!!

It's been quite some time since I've shared my heart in a blog. And I thought that I would start the year by addressing something that's been on my heart for quite some time. I've contemplated sharing because I didn't want anyone to feel bad, I didn't want anyone to feel that they needed to defend Reign & I and I didn't want it to seem like a pity party. TRUST ME, this mama is STRONG...but I'm still human. So let's talk about WORDS.

I started Reign's IG page as a way for my family all over the country to keep up with her NICU journey. But once I made her page public (because there was a FLOOD of friend requests from family & friends), I noticed that our page grew far quicker from people who WEREN'T in our circle. We had just come home from the NICU and I realized that I didn't really see any other accounts giving really raw accounts of what it was like to parent a medically-fragile micropreemie (although I found many later on). So I decided that if we were going to be public, we were going to be for others what we didn't have. And for the most part, being public has been beautiful. I've met amazing people who have encouraged us and united with us in this journey. But just as I've encountered jewels, I've encountered some not-so-nice people who've said some not-so-nice things. Some laughable, others downright mean and crushing. Here are a few of them:

"I feel so sorry for your family! I couldn't do it!"

Now this one I didn't find offensive as much as I did patronizing. None of us know what tomorrow holds but we continue to conquer 100% of our yesterdays. So with that said, we all have within us whats needed to handle what comes our way. Some take things lying down and some of us get up and FIGHT!! Giving up on my daughter wasn't an option. What does that look like anyway? Adoption perhaps. But as long as I am her parent, guardian, caregiver and life guide, I'm going to make sure that she has everything she needs. Does that mean every day is easy? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But there's no need to feel sorry for us. Honestly, I feel sorry for those who've never seen and experienced this kind of miracle.

"You can advocate without telling all your daughters business. How will she feel about this when she's older?"

Business? A 2 year old HAS business? LOL. I had to laugh at this one because it showed more concern for a toddlers imaginary modesty than the THOUSANDS of REAL people we have helped via social media, this blog, our national print ads and commercials which MILLIONS have seen. But to indulge the thought, how could I show that there's life after the NICU if I don't show our life after the NICU? The only reason why I found this offensive was because of the thought that I didn't consider my child or her future. It was my first thought and still is for everything I do. But to answer their question, I think my daughter will be very proud that her parents took a traumatic, near-death birth and used it help others triumph.

"Why would you vaccinate a micropreemie? That's why she's so delayed!"

I've actually gotten this comment in several different ways by several different people since she was an infant, most were anti-vaxxers; who dumped a bunch of "studies" in my inbox about why children shouldn't be vaccinated. Oddly enough, no one ever took the time to do the research and show me just why low birth weight babies shouldn't be vaccinated (making it even easier to ignore). But micropreemies are among the most vulnerable so why WOULDN'T we protect them from diseases that would severely sicken grown adults? Each vaccine has a minimum weight for the patient and micropreemies don't meet that at birth so shots are delayed. Reign received hers about 2 months after birth. But to save time, Ill just say that Reign's delays have NOTHING to do with what entered her body and everything to do with her prematurity.

And lastly, a favorite:

"If you were healthier before pregnancy you wouldn't have had HELLP syndrome, she wouldn't have come early and she would be doing better."

And when I say it's a favorite, I mean that it's one that frequents my mind when I'm being very tough on myself. I can't tell you how many times I've blamed myself for Reign's early arrival. I've wondered if I would've gotten preeclampsia & HELLP syndrome were I more athletic, if I had eaten differently, if I had gotten pregnant younger or if I hadn't flown across the country. But then I remember that ANYONE can get preeclampsia. I do have a few risk factors: Race (4x more likely to suffer pregnancy related complications), weight(more likely to have pre-existing hypertension, although I didn't), and having lupus (2 in 10 lupus patients will get preeclampsia). None of my other pregnancies showed signs of hypertension or preeclampsia and my high risk doctor was very diligent in getting monthly tests so I couldn't have imagined this would happen (although my last OB appt was with her partner who ignored slight ankle swelling and didn't order tests which couldve caught it early and prevented such a premature and traumatic birth). So believe me when I say that I've already blamed myself a million times, I didn't need anyone who DOESN'T know the facts to also blame me. But that's just the start of the insensitive and cruel comments I've received over the last 2 years.

To be continued....

Please consider donating to our March For Babies campaign and helping us meet our goal to continue our work to advocate for prematurity and to end the maternal health crisis. Click here to donate.


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