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A Preemie Picture for Citi

March 18, 2010

(Written by guest blogger Melanie, Josh’s Mom)

We had a conference call with Citi today. Citi’s campaign for March for Babies is “grass roots” and so successful! They are a perfect example of how employees alone can rally together and raise a ton of money. Last year they raised over $3 million and were the top 3rd team in the nation – 1st in the financial industry. Since 2000, Citi’s total contribution to the March of Dimes mission is $26 million!

Josh and I were on the call to share our story, to help paint a picture of prematurity, and create a sense of urgency to stop this growing crisis. When I heard ‘paint a picture’ I really wanted to use the best words possible to describe what Josh looked like when he was born. The first thing that came to my mind was how he looked like a tiny old man…

Here’s the unabridged version of my first meeting with my baby Josh.

When Lee and I walked into the neonatal intensive care unit for the first time, everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and looked at us. The doctor told us our baby was in the isolette at the end—the newest baby in the unit. As we walked toward it I wondered if it was a good spot. Then I saw him. OMG! That teeny, tiny, frail, fragile body. That’s my son. There were so many tubes coming out of him. He had a tube coming out of his naval and a ventilator tube was in his mouth. He had tape all over him holding tubes and IVs in place. His skin was so thin, barely thicker than the tape. Because he had jaundice, his whole body was a yellowish tint. His ears were flat and stuck to his head. One of his eyes was attempting to open while the other was completely fused shut. His cheeks were sunken. He had no lips. His mouth was open and the skin around it was wrinkled. My very premature baby boy looked like an old man.

At first I felt panic. I wanted to scream. But with a huge effort, I managed to remain calm. That’s was my baby would look like if he was still inside of me. And now I was looking straight at him through the plastic walls of his isolette. This was his new home and this room was my new home, too. Suddenly, all my motherly instincts flooded through me—I had to help him! I had to protect him! All those machines with blinking, colored lights, what did they mean? And the bells? Bells kept going off, more for our baby than any of the other babies. I wanted to rescue him from all of this, this man-made place, from the machines, from the bells, from the needles and…and do what? This was his reality and ours too now.

I took a deep breath. That’s when I noticed his hair; it was dark and beautiful. And his fingers; they were so unbelievably small, but long and slender, so graceful. My heart ached for my little baby. All I wanted to do was touch him, hug him, kiss him…take him home! But we weren’t allowed to do any of those things that day. Because I was forced to stifle such an overwhelmingly strong instincts, my brain completely short circuited. It stopped telling me what to do in this situation, where to look, what to say. I felt awkward and nothing was coming naturally to me. It was the strangest feeling I had ever had. It was like being in the middle of one of those dreams where you’re given a test that you didn’t study for and you don’t know the answers to any of the questions so you completely freeze up with fear and anxiety. That entire experience felt like a test that I was failing miserably. I hoped that with time it would get easier, that I would eventually learn the answers to all of the questions. Before I knew it, it was time to go. Suddenly, I couldn’t swallow. I felt like I was suffocating as I faced the latest question on this torturous test: what was an appropriate way to say goodbye to my son? “Goodnight,” I whispered taking one last look at him. Not goodbye, but goodnight.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rick Gallo permalink
    March 18, 2010 7:12 pm

    Amazing Melanie….simply amazing..your story could be told, unfortunately, over and over again every day, just with different names. It’s why we do what we do. Thank you so much for sharing. We are so grateful to have you and Josh and Alex and Lee to help increase the awareness of our mission. Thank you!

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