I am strong because in April of 2012, I gave birth to a precious baby girl named Evelyn, prematurely at 24 weeks due to incompetent cervix, premature labor, and infection.
I am strong because I endured a frightening classical c-section 4 hours after entering the hospital with a smile on my face, knowing it was the best chance my baby had to survive.
I am strong because I was told I will never have a future vaginal birth due to my vertical incision, and I would never be allowed to go into labor for fear of rupturing my uterus.
I am strong because I spent every single night in the NICU watching my tiny 1 pound 5 ounce, 11.75 inch long daughter through a plastic window, unable to hold her.
I am strong because I pumped breast milk for her every 3 hours.
I am strong because at 5 weeks and 3 days old my little girl developed an infection called NEC, and within hours of its discovery, it took her life.
I am strong because I held her for the first and only time as she was passing away.
I am strong because throughout the most horrifying time of my life I was able to plan a beautiful funeral for my baby, something no mother should ever have to do.
I am strong because 4 weeks after she died, I donated all of my pumped breast milk, roughly 600 ounces, to a milk bank to help babies like her.
I am strong because 1 year and 9 months later I discovered that I was again pregnant, I was elated.
I am strong because I was considered high risk and went to many, many extra appointments.
I am strong because at 13 weeks and 5 days I went into the hospital to have a preventative cerclage placed in the hopes of getting me to full term.
I am strong because I was placed on modified bed rest for over a month, but I took it upon myself to continue bed rest as much as I could throughout the entire pregnancy.
I am strong because I was given weekly progesterone shots.
I am strong because despite the constant fear of losing another baby I decorated a beautiful nursery for our second daughter.
I am strong because at 6 months I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
I am strong because I gave up all of my favorite foods, took medication, and drew blood up to 5 times a day to control it.
I am strong because I held my breath during more than 21 ultrasounds, expecting to hear the worst each time.
I am strong because at 37 weeks to the day, 3 days after my cerclage was removed, I began having contractions that eventually were 2-4 minutes apart.
I am strong because I finally realized they were not Braxton Hicks and had my husband drive me to the hospital.
I am strong because I was given 4 pills of Procardia to help relax my uterus, but the contractions continued to get more intense.
I am strong because after 3 or so hours of contracting in the hospital I was told I would be having my cesarean that night.
I am strong because at 8:08pm, just one minute later than my first daughter’s birth, my second beautiful girl, Emily, came screaming into the world at 6 pounds 5 ounces and 19 inches long.
I am strong because during her birth my doctor discovered that my previous incision scar was thinning, and had I not gotten to the hospital when I did it would have eventually ruptured, and endangered both of our lives.
I am strong because I heard over the curtain the doctors exclaim that Emily had a true knot in her umbilical cord and her cord was wrapped around her neck, but thankfully neither affected her health.
I am strong because my baby had to spend 5 days in the NICU, due to being slightly premature and having jaundice, a place I thought I would never have to visit again.
I am strong because I was finally able to bring our baby home from the hospital.
I am strong because I have two beautiful girls, one on Earth and one in my heart, to motivate me to be the absolute best mother that I can be.
From Katariina Shoemaker