by Jennifer Schwertfeger
15 years ago, my life changed after giving birth to my daughter Grace, at only 24 weeks. I had a high-risk pregnancy, that lead to an early preterm birth, I never imagined that grace would be born 16 weeks prematurely, I wasn’t prepared for any of the challenges that would lie ahead. After 9 months in the hospital, we finally brought Grace home. We would first learn how to care for all of Grace’s needs. Grace would need a tracheostomy, feeding tube and a lot of other equipment, to come home safely. Grace was a fighter and survived through some of the most diffcult times of my life. When I look back at those trying moments, I often wonder, how did I ever make it through!
Having a preemie changes your life. After bringing Grace home, I felt like I became a nurse overnight. Grace has so many medical complications, one after another, that I had to make some tough choices through the years. Those choices really impacted me, that I felt physically and emotionally drained. Life is full of challenges. Just that some of those challenges can be difficult to cope with. For years, Grace had health issues that lead to many hospital and clinic visits. Along with having one respiratory cold after another, it would take her weeks, and even months to recover. She also had developmental delays. Another whole new world for me. Having a child with special needs can change the dynamics of your entire family. Some many wonder how did you make it through? Or what did you do to cope? Everything that I had worked hard for up to this point; my dreams, education and my career rather, would now be pull off to the side. I didn’t know what the future held. I turned to writing, and it became very therapeutic for me. Writing down my thoughts helped me realize that there was a reason why we went through what we did! I was praying for a miracle, and writing to help deal with all the decisions that had to be made. I knew at some point in my life, I would want to share this information, and this was my way of letting others know that they are not alone.
After a long road of writing rough drafts, and the devastating news that my mom was dying, I finally took my journals to a new level, and began writing my story. I made a promise to my mom that one day, I would get “Life with Grace” published. After watching my mom fight for her own life, I knew that my book would be the center of helping others cope through their own trials of life. The writing was my way of moving forward, and it was something that I enjoyed doing since I was young. Why not do something with the information and experience I went through. I believe when something happens to you, that is so life-changing, it is important to find an outlet that makes you happy. You need to challenge yourself. I felt exhausted through the years, that I described it as a “preemie vet” going to war, fighting for your child’s life over, and over again. You become a “warrior”.
My hope is that many will be inspired by my book and motivate them to not give up on their own dreams. I want to challenge many to keep on moving forward. Just because my life changed many years ago, that didn’t stop me from doing something that I love. In fact, I feel what I did endure through the years, mas motivated me to share my story today and write a book about it.
Years ago, if someone had asked me if I would consider writing a book about my story, I would have thought they were crazy! I didn’t have time to even keep the food warm on our table. I was always needed in so many different directions. Don’t let these roadblocks stop you from being happy. You too can do something that you have a passion for! People need to feel inspired by others, in order to feel challenged in their own lives. I hope my book provides just that. Now is the perfect time in my life, to start giving back to money of the organizations that helped me years ago. I feel honored by all the opportunities that have cone along through my book. I have a passion for helping people, and this is my way of giving back. I am so thankful. I always believe that things happen for a reason, and I know now that my book will impact many. I am incredibly grateful for that.
“Life with Grace” is about surviving a miracle. You can follow Jennifer and her daughter Grace on their Facebook page and watch as her story unwinds at: www.facebook.com/lifewithgracebook.
If you would like to order a copy of Jennifer’s book, please visit her website at https://www.amazon.com/Life-Grace-Jennifer-Schwertfeger