We’d like to thank Guest Contributor Wanda Morrissey for sharing her story. Over the coming weeks, we will feature more about the experience Wanda had with becoming a mother 14 weeks early.

I remember reading somewhere that there are 13 million premature, or 10% of all births worldwide every year. I never thought that my child would be one of them.

On January 17, 2008, my son Jeffrey was born, he was 14 weeks premature. When he was born, I didn’t hear him cry or get the chance to hold him. He was whisked away to the NICU before I even got the chance to hold him. Born in the wee hours of the morning, it wasn’t until later that night that I got to see Jeffrey.

I was not prepared for what I saw. He weighted 790 g (1 lb 12 oz) and was 12 inches (30.5 cm) long. He was the size of a Barbie doll and not much heavier. There were tubes and wires everywhere. There was a breathing tube down his throat and a feeding tube through his naval. There were wires attached to his tiny body to monitor his heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. He had an I.V. in each hand. An opened diaper was lying under him. He was too small and his skin too sensitive to wear it.

He looked so small, so frail, so vulnerable. All I wanted to do was cuddle him, tell him that Mommy was there and that everything would be okay but I couldn’t. I’d already been told that the odds were against a child so small, that there were so many things that could and would go wrong, that every day would be a struggle filled with highs and lows. And then there was the cuddling itself, the one thing I really wanted to do and couldn’t, Jeffrey’s skin was so thin that even the most gentle of touches would feel like sandpaper.

Cuddling was out of the question. I did the only thing I could, I stood by his incubator and cried.