Combining two of her favorite things right now - Dora and books! This is how Natalie keeps herself occupied lately on our drives to and from Dayton. She will look at one page for a long time and then hand the book to me to turn to the next page for her.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a mother. I grew up in a large, close family, always with plenty of people around to play and laugh with. I saw my grandparents several times a week and until I was about 14 years old my cousins lived next door to us! I was the oldest of my siblings and cousins and growing up we had tons of fun adventures together. I never imagined that the road to becoming a mother would be as long and difficult as it ended up being. However, about 4 years ago this month, I was celebrating my first mother's day as a mother-to-be. I know I was so excited but it all felt so unreal. I'd wanted to be pregnant for so long it was almost as if I did not believe that I really was. On top of that, I was pregnant with twins! Little did I know then that in a few short months everything would change. I went into preterm labor at 20 weeks and was on bedrest in the hospital until 23 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy when Natalie and Andrew were born. Being thrust into the world of parenting a micropreemie involved so many terrifying decisions with the very first being did I want to even give my children a chance to survive. They were born so early that they had less than 40% chance of surviving and very high likelihood of having significant disabilities. Most readers know that Andrew survived only 2 days and Natalie spent 110 days in the NICU fighting infections, having surgeries, and learning to eat. So while the road was not easy in any way, I am thankful that I have the chance to be a mother. Being Natalie's mom is the best! Her wonderful personality makes it easier to put her traumatic beginnings behind and just enjoy her each day.
I am mom to Natalie Elizabeth, a strong and feisty 8 year old born, along with her twin brother Andrew John, nearly 17 weeks early on 9/2/06. Andrew passed away on 9/4/06 and Natalie spent 110 days in the NICU. As a result of her premature birth she has Cerebral Palsy. Despite her challenges, she is constantly doing new and amazing things and surprising everyone!