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Miracle Moment: Ann Catherine George

Ann Catherine "Now"

Ann Catherine "Then"

Chris and I have reached the milestone that so many of you have already experienced. The one where after 18 years of loving your child, meeting their needs, laughing with them, crying with them, celebrating with them, and hurting with them, they pack their bags and off they go.

You’re so excited for what’s ahead of them but you can’t imagine a world where you don’t see them every day and hug them before they go to bed. And, while you know the point of parenting is to raise good humans who will go into the world and do good things, it feels like your heart is leaving with them.

That’s our reality as we get ready to take Ann Catherine to college. As I’ve reflected this summer on how we got here so quickly, my mind has repeatedly gone back to the summer of 2005. The uncertainty. The ventilator. The feeding tubes. The strangers taking care of her. The milestones. The setbacks. The prayers. The fears. The pleading. The hope.

Our experience in the Neonatal ICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children led me and my husband, Chris, to start the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund at Huntsville Hospital Foundation in honor of our daughters. To help children who would eventually come home, like Ann Catherine, and those who would not, like our sweet Melissa. Everything we’ve accomplished in 18 years – every dollar raised, every baby helped, every parent comforted – has been with our daughters at the forefront of our minds.

When we take Ann Catherine to college, we’ll remember the journey that got us to this point with a heart of gratefulness. It truly takes a village, and our village began in the NICU with every nurse and physician who cared for her. When you support Melissa’s Fund, you become part of the village that gives a sick baby like ours a fighting chance. You become part of their life story. As I’ve watched my own preemie’s story unfold over the years, I can tell you there is no greater gift.