For a few weeks, I’ve been trying to summon the energy to write about a challenging time involving my son’s health a few years ago. I’m not there yet. As any parent can tell you, being poked, prodded, sliced, diced, and patched up is one thing when it happens to you. It’s a living hell when it happens to your child.

I think this is why I can’t get “Narratives from the NICU” out of my mind. The report tells literally heartbreaking stories of what families endured to save a life, a tiny life struggling to be a precious daughter or son. You can feel their pain — that of the family and the baby — as parents describe their months in the NICU. What the stories don’t fully reveal in detail is the release these parents must have felt after finding refuge in the Inspire Preemie Support Community.

As someone who has overcome a health nightmare with the help of the WomenHeart online community, I can describe the unique benefit of messaging forums as this: they allow individuals who’ve been through their own unimaginable hell to cast a line into a pool of likewise tested survivors to connect. It only takes that first leap of faith to write a post, agonize over it’s clarity and meaning, and then take a deep breath before clicking “post.”

And then, a reply comes. Out of thin air on your computer screen, a voice answers. It sounds as though you’ve known this person your entire life. Someone finally “gets it.”

… a special report published for Premature Awareness Month.