112 miles for preemies

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

500,000 babies are born early every year in the United States. In 2008 you were two of them, Max and Kate. You were 10 weeks early.

That experience and the months preceding your birth are memories that mommy and I will carry with us forever. Sometimes we still wrestle with the hard times, but we’re trying to let go. For our family everything worked out and we eventually brought home healthy babies. It wasn’t easy though and there were days and weeks when the outlook wasn’t good. But we brought you home.

Not everyone is so lucky. A baby dies every :30 seconds from complications of prematurity. The thought is overwhelming.

November is National Prematurity Awareness Month. I wanted to do something personally to raise awareness. Prematurity affected my life. It shaped it in many ways.

I wanted to say thank you to the doctors, nurses, and various organizations that helped us. I have to admit that all of my ideas felt hollow. There isn’t a way to express my gratitude.

Mommy spent 68 days in the hospital between August and November. Many of those days were spent inverted in her bed. Leg massagers and compression socks keeping her blood moving while she laid upside down. No showers. No trips to the bathroom. She didn’t feel the sun on her skin until the very end. She laid there, Max and Kate, and never complained. Never asked to go home. She only wanted you two to live. She was willing to exchange her life if she had to. The nurses frequently reminded us that all of the women they met in that situation weren’t as willing or prepared as your mommy. I’ll never forget or discount the courage of my wife.

marking off the days in the hospital bed. She had certain goals she wanted to reach!

Izzy, you and I learned to function without Mommy for those months. It wasn’t easy for us. But those days as father and daughter built a bond that I hope stays between us forever. You were 4 at the time. I read books to you at night. We talked about Mommy. I did my best to find a hair bow to match your outfit each morning. We drove the 45 minutes to and from the hospital each day and visited mommy. You drew her pictures and crawled up in the bed beside her each evening.

After Mommy had been in the hospital for 10 weeks you two were delivered by emergency C-section, Max and Kate. Mommy was really sick with a life threatening infection and the doctors decided to deliver you early so that they could try to save Mommy’s life and save your lives before the infection spread to you. And they did. Thank you, God.

I met you two at 3:27 and 3:28pm on October 22. I was so scared. I sat alone in an empty hallway that afternoon. They did a spinal tap on your mommy before they started the C-section, and then they called me in. I held Mommy’s hand. And then I saw your face, Max. And then yours, Kate. I held you two, one by one, close to Mommy so she could kiss each of you. Then they rushed you away for your long stay in the NICU.

So, I’m grateful.

Mommy spent 68 days in the hospital. You two little ones spent 28 days at Baptist in the NICU. Kate, you spent 10 days at Vanderbilt Children’s NICU with RSV. And Max, you spent 6 days there with the same thing. I’m still amazed by how you two responded when they finally put you in the same room instead of keeping you isolated. You cried for each other. But stopped when they put you together. And you began to get better. Together. I’ll never understand the mystery or the beauty of twins.

In all, you two and Mommy spent 112 days in the hospital in 2008. I’ve never been the same. But I know more joy than I ever dreamed of.

November 17th is National Prematurity Awareness Day. And November 18th is the day we brought you home for the first time. Special days.

I want to do something. To remember. To honor your Mommy’s strength. To recognize your big sister’s resiliency and uncommon maturity. I want to thank the people who cared for you. And to stand in awe of God’s goodness in my life.

Since I’ve been writing to you about triathlon the last few months I thought it might be appropriate to commemorate next weekend with 112 miles. Since that’s the number of days we spent in hospitals.  I know, it feels small and it isn’t something that matters. But it’s something.

I’m not in great shape right now. I haven’t trained since the September. So maybe the volume is a bad idea. But I think it makes it a worthy adventure and tribute. It’s certainly easier than the one our family undertook back then.

I’m also suffering from an injured hip/glute, so I haven’t decided yet exactly how I’ll cover the miles.  I’m considering triathlons on both the 17th and 18th broken up like this:

Swim: 3520

Bike: 89.2 miles

Run: 20.7

Broken into two days it would look like this:

Swim: 1800 each day

Bike: 44.6 each day

Run: 10.35 each day

If my hip continues to bother me, I may elect to just ride 112 miles on Saturday. Either way, I’ll cover the miles.112 also happens to be my high school wrestling weight class…and favorite number. Weird, huh?

There are a few organizations and charities who were there for us during our journey. I know times are tough for people these days, but I would love it if my readers felt compelled to donate to these charities on behalf of the Nikazy family for National Prematurity Awareness Month. Donate by the mile or a lump sum. click on any of the links below to learn more about and to donate directly to their causes. Each of them touched our family in some way.




TriFatherhood.com is not affiliated with any of these organizations and will not profit directly from any gift you decide to give. If you are affiliated with one of these organizations and would rather not be listed here, please let me know.

More on all this later!

I love you,

– Daddy

please comment below if you plan to support Babies through my 112 mile journey on November 17th and 18th. Also, please tweet this blog post or post to your Facebook account to raise awareness for the 500,000 babies a year living in NICUs. It’s easy to spread the word! See those buttons below?