By Joel Brens
As I look back on the journey we've been on with Jayden, I can't help but be thankful for every gift bestowed me. My wife's pregnancy was far from perfect, but through adversity I have grown so much as a husband, father, and person.
Writing and reading, as well as sharing stories from other dads, has been the most therapeutic form of release and comfort for me. It's funny how while I was processing the journey of the NICU while Jayden got strong enough to come home, I probably cried two or three times. Since launching POP and rehashing those feelings and emotions, as well as reading about other people's journey, I cry a lot.
The best part about it? It feels great to laugh and cry it out. And it's free!!
I came to grips early on in the support group journey that circumstances do not dictate validity to how hard or easy having a child in the NICU can be. Whether its 5 days or 205, helplessness, uncertainty, and guilt all can play their part in making getting through the darkest moments trying. But hope, joy, and small milestones are also right there for the taking, but you have to choose to be positive.
As I get the opportunity to meet with amazing people, notably my friends at the Preemie Parent Alliance over the course of the next couple of days, I can't help but be grateful for all that has played out over the past couple of months.
Thank you to Aimee Sprik, who has done countless things to help me along the way, more than I could possibly acknowledge, while setting the bar high with the amazing success of Life After NICU (Support Group).
Thank you to Erika Goyer, of Hand to Hold, who has given me sound advice and helped me become a part of the wonderful team of bloggers at Preemie Babies 101.
Thank you to Keira Sorrells, of The Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation, for always being a shot in the arm, a huge cheerleader for me, and brining me on board with the PPA.
Most of all, I want to thank all of the community members for helping me get to this point, especially my contributing group (Jon, Rob, Mark, Jonah, Tom & Brian) who validated why I do this.
Support and community have given me a sense of purpose in my life. That's easily the best therapy on earth.