Just about twenty years ago our daughter Andie arrived in the world, three months before she was meant to be born.
I chronicled the entire journey in my memoir, Preemie.
One chapter that stood out for so many readers was when I introduced the first doctor we’d see after Andie’s three month hospital stay. Readers were outraged and wanted to hun
t that doctor down to give him a piece of their minds and urged me to do the same.
Ultimately, I ended up writing a letter to that doctor. A letter I never sent. Because that letter wasn’t really for him, it was for me. For me any one else who has ever been made to feel less than, afraid and uncertain.
I wonder if you remember me?
We met almost twenty years ago?
I was the one with that really preemie baby.
She had an ostomy bag and a scar on her back from her heart/lung surgery?
I carried her in a soft pink fleece and was a little shaky having just brought her home from the NICU?
Do you remember me?
Well, I remember you.
I remember your charcoal-colored cashmere sweater and matching thick-framed glasses.
I remember the glossy photo of your three beautiful children hanging on your office wall.
I remember the shiny silver pen you used to record your notes and how you never looked up when you said my daughter would always be small.
I remember you did look up when I said, “No,” and how I had to explain that I meant No, she wouldn’t always be small.
I remembered how you chuckled, and mumbled something about me being in denial.
But I remember knowing that I was not in denial.
I remember the deep knowing I felt within my being – the knowing that my girl would not meet your expectations, but her own and the expectations of those who loved and believed in her.
I remember wondering about the other parents you might meet and what would happen if they believed Your Truth.
I remember promising myself that someday I would tell you just how wrong you were.
Well, that someday has arrived.
My daughter, her name is Andie, in case you don’t remember, is turning 20 next week and is currently 5 feet 10 inches tall and an amazing young woman.
I promised myself I’d tell you just how wrong you were, but instead, I think I’ll just say… Thank you.
Thank you for your certainty in all the things our daughter would not be and your certainty in all the things she could not do, because without your certainty, perhaps I would never have found mine.
Thank you, dear doctor, from all the parents in the world who’ve ever been told what their child is not, so they can believe in everything their child is.
Today is National Prematurity Awareness Day.
Please pass this along to anyone you believe it may help, and I’d love to hear any of your experiences around the power of forgiveness and speaking your truth, or if it’s something you’re struggling with yourself.