by Debra Cassell
My journey to pregnancy was a long and stressful path. I suffered multiple early miscarriages beginning at age 32. We went through all the evasive and painful fertility treatments available. After finally getting pregnant through IVF, I suddenly experienced HELLP Syndrome and was forced to have an emergency C-section at 26 weeks. He weighed 1 lb. 13 oz. Sam was in the NICU in Roanoke, VA for just over 3 months. Sam’s twin sister, Allison, became an angel 11 days after birth from NEC.
Walking back into the hospital every day after was a struggle. I had just lost a baby, but still had one fighting for his life in the NICU. They moved Sam to a different room to try to make it easier. I remember closing my eyes when I walked past the room where I saw her breathe her last breath.
The whole experience was rough. But we have a beautiful son who we cherish every day. For all he is. Sam turned 13 on June 14th and is doing amazingly well! He is currently battling juvenile arthritis, but he’s a tough little ray of light.
The NICU can be an extremely scary place and the uncertainty of having a child so vulnerable is something that a lot of parents struggle with.
I was headed back to work as a special ed teacher, after staying home with our preemie for two years. The thought of leaving him in the care of a stranger terrified me. That’s when the words for the story flowed out of me. They stayed on a legal pad for ten years. I made this into a book to give hope to all the families that are currently fighting for their little miracles.
I wrote our book, Sammie the Salmon, when I was realizing I had to let go some and let my protected 26 week, 1 lb. 13 oz. sweetie become himself. I say “our book” because it’s a tribute to Sam and the fighter in him. He doesn’t remember that fight, but his family does.
Sammie the Salmon offers a ray of positive hope for other families that experience the NICU and premature birth. Good things can happen, and our awesome Sam is proof of that!!
My hope is to give encouragement to other families through our story of love. To be able to share our experience in a positive way is a blessing from God.
Debra Cassell is mom to Sam who spent 3 months in the NICU. She is also the proud mom to Emily, her precious daughter who was adopted from South Korea. Debra has always been an advocate for children first and foremost along with being a special education teacher for the past seventeen years. She understands that all children are special and unique!
To purchase her book, “Sammie the Salmon”, click here.