This past weekend, the NICU where our children spent the first six weeks of their lives, held it's annual "Little Graduate Reunion."
We decided to attend because we thought it would be a good opportunity to see some of the doctors and nurses who were like family to us, while our children were in the hospital.
Walking through the crowds of people, I couldn't help but notice the children who had apparent health challenges.
There was a little boy with braces on his legs, a little girl with a feeding tube and a set of twins who were hooked up to oxygen tanks.
There were scores of children running around, but there were other children - confined to wheelchairs - who could only watch with longing, the kids happily jumping in the inflatable bounce house.
The fact that any of us are here, is a miracle.
This planet is just right. It's not too hot, not too cold. The air we breathe, although sometimes laden with pollen - is the precise chemistry to support our existence. There are so many things, millions of things, that have to "line up" in order for life to even exist. And once life begins, at a cellular level, there are so many things that can go wrong.
Many of us live in a world where we are completely sheltered from seeing or hearing about children that are born too early or with grave defects.
Partly through the experience we had while our children were in the NICU, we have been exposed first hand to some of the things that can and do go wrong. We've seen babies born as prematurely as 23 weeks and the terrible complications those babies face. We watched our own children struggle with issues that were a direct result of their prematurity. Why, it doesn't seem like that long ago, I held vigil beside William's crib, almost certain that I would lose him.
To see him now, it seems unfathomable that he was ever so sick.
Since the time our children were in the NICU, I've been exposed to even more heartache. Through blogging, I've come across the McConathy family who delivered their triplets 17 weeks prematurely and lost two of their three babies six days after birth, and their baby boy Jaxon, three months later. Last week, I was contacted by Joy, the woman who inspired my Triplet Guilt post, to tell me that her "spontaneous surprise" a baby girl that would be named Paige, died a day before her due date, while Joy was waiting to go in to labor.
There is also the Farley family that gave birth to their daughter Copeland who had been diagnosed with Trisomy 18, while in utero. Copeland was born on September 19 and died eight days later. Although the family knew her life would be short ... I don't believe that anything can prepare a person for the pain of losing their child.
I have my health and my husband does, too.
We live in a day and age where modern medicine helped us to not only become parents, but to get all four of our precious babies home from the hospital and in to our arms.
Sometimes, when our children are jumping on their bed, or throwing their food, or screaming at the top of their lungs, or making messes, or keeping me awake at night, I forget just how lucky I am.
We shouldn't, but so often, we do forget. We take our good health for granted. We take our children's good health for granted. We take the good health of the people in our lives for granted. We don't always remember just how incredibly fortunate we are, when we are frustrated with ourself, our friends, our parents, or our spouses, or when we are struggling with the challenges of parenthood.
The seasons of life can change so quickly. It's necessary to have a reminder every so often and to take inventory. Right now, the sun is shining brightly on my life and the life of my loved ones.
And I am extremely thankful.