2lbs 14 oz.
That was the size of my Baby B.
Comparatively, Baby A, was a chunky 4lbs 5oz.
My twins were born at 32 weeks.
November is National Prematurity Awareness month. If you had told me a year ago that I would deliver my twins prematurely and that the experience from delivery to discharge from the NICU would provide some of the biggest blessings of my year, I would’ve (initially) panicked, but then reaffirmed for myself that I was doing all the right things for my pregnancy and assured myself that it wouldn’t happen to me and dismissed it.
Sometimes, I love being wrong.
When I was growing up, my mom had a special jar on our “telephone counter” (you know– that extra space of counter that was oh-so-necessary in the 90’s for the landline telephone, answering machine, phone book, and quintessential pad of paper and pen) that simply said “Blessings” on the outside.
She purchased the Blessings Jar at Silver Dollar City (or “Steal Your Dollar City” as my parents called it due to the small loan from our college funds they had to borrow from to pay to the entrance fees, but I digress) when I was around 8 or 9 from one of those old time pottery shops that makes you channel your inner Laura Ingalls. One day after purchasing, she announced that this jar would sit on the counter year round and every time a prayer was answered or something we were thankful for occurred, we were to write it on a strip of paper and place it in the jar.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving of the next year as we sat eating at the table with our plates full of potatoes and green bean casserole, mom pulled out the jar. For the next 45 minutes we each went around the table, pulled out a strip of paper and read what it said. This act reminded us of each and every blessing from the past year. After we’d gorged ourselves on food and the jar was empty, we each agreed this needed to continue.
Boom. A tradition was born.
Though we’ve missed a few years, and though some years contained far fewer strips of paper than it should have given how faithful the Lord had been to our family, this is a tradition I look forward to each year and one I hope to always pass on.
Over the years, I never dreamed that tiny jar, which has now been chipped from being dropped a few too many times, would hold the blessings that it does today. This year, seemingly insignificant strips of paper proudly proclaim:
That my 2lb little girl is a feisty 16lb pound blue-eyed beauty;
That my 4lb little boy is a happy, healthy, helmet wearing “hoss;”
That I’m thankful the Lord placed a girl in the NICU with identical twins 7 years before me in order to prepare her to be my Twintor (my “twin mentor’). Though she didn’t understand why during her time, I’m confident it was God’s way of preparing a physical form of himself to be His hands and voice during my tear-filled phone call to her hours before delivery.
That I’m so utterly thankful for a dozen women who simply showed up just to do their job that day as nurses in the NICU but became friends we owe our babies lives to;
That I was able to take home my preemies, when I know of others who did not;
That I’m thankful my babies were born in 2016, instead of 2006, when the chances of survival at 32 weeks was much, much lower.
Though, you may not have a blessing jar, I do hope you take this Thanksgiving to recall your year and find a blessing, even in ugliest and hardest of days. The funny thing about blessings is sometimes their origins surprise you.
This year, in my case, whenever I count my blessings, I’ll be counting them twice.