In honor of Prematurity Awareness Month, I wanted to share my story.
The March of Dimes began the Prematurity Awareness Campaign in 2003 to raise awareness on prematurity and reduce the rate of preterm births. With over 500,000 infants born prematurely in the US alone and preterm birth being the #1 cause of newborns deaths, education, awareness and prevention are key. As part of the campaign, November was named Prematurity Awareness Month.
Complications faced by infants born prematurely include not only life threatening issues, but also lifelong disabilities. These complications, no matter how small and remediable, exact a tremendous financial and emotional toll on the family. I experienced this firsthand 2 years ago when my son was born 10 days shy of full-term and was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome due to immature lung development.
It was Saturday, September 5, 2009, 6:05 pm. I remember it as if it happened yesterday. It was a usual day. I was working at the Church of Scientology in San Francisco, wrapping up for the day when my water broke. I was 35 ½ weeks along. My hospital bags were not packed. I hadn’t turned in my maternity leave request. Nothing was prepared. And to top it all, the bridge to my hospital was closed. I called my husband to begin packing the bags and scrambled to find someone to drive me all the way around the San Francisco Bay on a Saturday night in Labor Day weekend traffic to get me to the hospital.
I arrived at the hospital, went through triage and checked in to my labor and delivery room around 8:30 pm. By 9 pm, my cervix was fully dilated. Less than 6 hours after arriving to the hospital, my son, Orion, was born on September 6 at 5 lbs 4 oz. I got to spend maybe 5 minutes with him before he was whisked off for further observation and then admitted to the NICU, the Neonatal (Newborn) Intensive Care Unit.
He spent 10 days in the NICU, the first three of which were the most heartbreaking, with wires and tubes everywhere. He was on morphine and other drugs I lost count and don’t even know. Feelings of guilt, fear, grief and anxiety pummeled me like the winds of a category 5 hurricane. I hated watching them draw blood every day, twice a day. I hated all those wires and all the beeps and whirs from all the machines. I wanted to bring him home. So, when he was released on September 16, I thought that was the end. Bringing my baby home means I will get to begin the normal lifestyle all new moms get to experience bringing their baby home. But that was not so.
For months, I didn’t sleep. I woke up every time it got quiet. I was terrified he stopped breathing. When every mom I knew wanted to know how to get their baby to sleep longer, I prayed he would never sleep through the night. Silence was my greatest fear. I joked that I will still wake up to check his breathing even when he turns 26, married and living in some other state. But it was no joking matter. My quality of life was poor. I was flooded by waves of guilt, haunted by the question “Why?” I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t take drugs, I ate well, I took care of myself for me and the baby. So, why did it happen to me? My doctor doesn’t know. And I will never know.
It wasn’t until I completed a full Scientology auditing program that my life turned around. The program included Dianetics techniques to address every aspect of my emotional suffering and irrational behavior. I addressed everything from the labor to the NICU experience, to the fears, the grief, the anger, the reactions and especially the illogical behaviors I felt compelled to do. All that haunted me, I voiced, I analyzed and I deconstructed. Through the Scientology auditing program, I was able to separate out the pain from the memory and remove its hidden influence over me. It doesn’t mean I feel no emotion anymore; it means I removed the hidden mechanisms in my mind that were secretly driving me crazy. It is with Dianetics I was able to regain my sanity and overcome these unfounded fears. I finally slept through the night for the first time since delivery, long after Orion himself was sleeping through the night. I started to enjoy each moment with him rather than worry. I finally found peace.
The support of my family, friends and the Scientology community played a pivotal role in my passage through this emotional and psychological storm. With the technology of Dianetics and Scientology, I was able to conquer this tempest. I feel more alive and happier than before. My family has thrived as a result.
Orion just turned two in September. No one can even tell of his rough beginning. I’m so grateful my story has a happy ending. Not all premature babies are this lucky. Prematurity awareness and prevention are important. Do the “Having a Happy Baby” course at your local Scientology center so you can learn the basic tools to help you have a happy baby no matter the outcome. Participate in programs that support medical research in preventing preterm birth and treating prematurity complications. Seek medical care early and aim for a healthy pregnancy through 39 weeks. Because Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait!