Guest Blog By Amy Purling :: Miracle Mumma
Find her online :: www.miraclemumma.com.au
When my son, James, was born 10 weeks premature, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t get to meet him until 4 hours after he was born, and I didn’t get to hold him for almost 24 hours. I spent the first few days by his cot side in NICU, trying to comprehend what had happened and convince myself that he was my son. I would return to my room on the postnatal ward each night and cry myself to sleep as I heard other Mum’s next door comforting, holding and feeding their babies. I was wracked with guilt; my body had failed us both and because of this, my son was laying on his own in a humidicrib with life-saving equipment burying his tiny fragile body. On day one, a beautiful nurse handed me a journal and told me to write everything down. She took a photo of my first cuddle (which she printed then and there) and placed it inside the journal. It is a moment I will never forget.
I was discharged from hospital just 4 days later. The pain and grief of arriving at hospital pregnant and going home without my baby will never leave me. Even now, with tears streaming down my face, I can feel the hole in my heart that will never heal. But from that moment onwards, I spent every waking hour scribbling in his journal, taking photos and celebrating every little milestone my boy reached. This was my way of slowly healing my wounds and staying strong. It was my way of simply surviving each day and bringing hope at such an uncertain time.
And it was through this process that the idea of premature baby milestone cards came to me. The milestones these little fighters reach are incredibly special, not only because they are unique, but because they offer hope and give parents the strength to go on. I remember feeling so proud when James had his first suck of his dummy that I cried, and then I laughed at how surreal the situation was!
Since leaving hospital almost a year ago, I have been working tirelessly to bring my idea to life. I spent 9 months in between naps, after bed time and I swear even in my sleep, designing these milestone cards (with zero design skills and on 100 software programs I didn’t even know existed). I spoke to hospital staff and other premmie Mum’s for advice, ideas and inspiration. I spoke to printers and suppliers about things I didn’t even understand. There were times I felt beyond guilty for answering my phone whilst I was reading a book to my baby or for palming him off to my husband as soon as he walked in the door. There were times I wanted to give up when I would finally crawl into bed at 1am, only to be woken 5 times before morning. But then the day finally came where I was able to share my passion with the world.
In December 2016, I introduced my small business, ‘Miracle Mumma’ on social media, and within a few days of ‘sneak peaks’, I had people messaging me asking how they could purchase. When I officially launched two weeks later, I had already sold 14 sets of my cards. People were donating sets to hospitals for the nurses to use, they were donating sets to other families in NICU, they were buying them for their friends who had just given birth prematurely. It became obvious that I wasn’t the only one who was passionate about this and I was slowly building a tribe of other Mums who understood and who wanted to help. These Mums started sharing my page and engaging with my posts. They began telling their stories and offering hope to others. I was quickly reminded of why I had put myself through so much pain, and although I was physically and emotionally exhausted, I knew I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Not long after, I started receiving photos from my first customer, who was much more than just ‘my first customer’. I wanted to know her story and share her journey. I wanted to be there for her and let her know that she wasn’t alone. I wanted to make this time easier for her. And since then, I’ve invested most of my time into my ‘customers’, who have become my second family. These families and the photos they share are my ‘why’ – my daily reminder of what is important and what we have overcome to be where we are today. I check in on them regularly, hoping that their little miracle is growing and thriving, praying that they aren’t alone and are coping ok. I share their ups and downs, literally beaming from ear to ear when the news is good, and feeling sick to my stomach when the news is bad. I become a part of their journey and each photo I receive makes my heart so full with pride and love. I’m not kidding, I jump up every single time I got a new photo and run to show my husband. He gives me that ‘yes, dear’ look, but secretly I know he loves it too!
Having a premature baby has changed me. It has given me a huge amount of perspective about what really matters in life, and what doesn’t. It was one of the toughest times of our lives, but it also inspired me to be a better person. These milestone cards are my way of giving back, and my way of supporting others through this rollercoaster ride. While they may not completely heal the heartache of having a baby in hospital, I truly believe they make a difficult time that little bit easier. As one of my customers said ‘every premmie Mum needs a set of these cards’. And that is my mission.