Today her nickname is still “Birdie”.

by Shelley Chaffey, Milton, Ontario

“My girls were born at 29 weeks weighing 1lb. 11 oz. and 3lbs. 2 oz. There are no words to describe seeing for the first time premature babies, lying in incubators attached to endless wires and tubes leading to numerous machines, and fighting for their lives. My first thought of my 1lb. 11 oz. daughter was that she resembled a baby bird and her limbs were smaller than I could ever imagine.”

“The doctors assured me that there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome of my situation yet I still felt like a failure. I could not provide them with the safe environment they needed, the one thing at the very least a mother should be able to provide. To not be able to hold your babies, comfort and cuddle them, bond with them, was beyond heart-wrenching. The feeling of joy and elation you should have as a new mom are replaced with fear and isolation.”

“I can barely believe looking back what we lived through, but we did! Having survived premature birth and the NICU is an experience that changes you and never leaves you. To this day, when I hear the beep of a heart rate monitor my body tenses. However, it makes you stronger, teaches you to live moment to moment and never to utter the words – what if?”.