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A Year Later: What My Little Ladies Have Taught Me

Photo: Luca (left) and Elliott (right) Picarella sport 2017 Summit badges.

One year ago my little ladies were both in the NICU after an early and abrupt welcome into the world. I have never been more scared in all my life. What was supposed to be a quick check-in with the doctor, turned into a life changing visit. I vividly remember the look on the doctor’s face as he gently put the wand from the ultrasound down. He paused and quietly said, “You two are going to be parents today.” Unfortunately, the word congratulations did not follow as we were just 30 weeks pregnant. He gave us a stoic look that reeked of concern. That was not the news we wanted or expected to hear. One of the ladies, Luca, was struggling to survive, and they both had to be delivered immediately. Our fear morphed into concern and sadness as we wondered if they would be ok – that day and for the hopeful years to come. Within 20 minutes of getting that terrifying look from the doctor, we were parents. Little miss Luca weighed just 2 pounds, 9 ounces and little miss Elliott weighed 3 pounds, 2 ounces. The tiny ladies would remain in the hospital for almost 8 weeks. After blood infusions, oxygen, lung support, feeding tubes, the loving care of many doctors and nurses, and the enduring love of mom and dad, a year later the ladies are not just doing ok, they are smiling, thriving and have the greatest gift of all – good health.

“Within 20 minutes of getting that terrifying look from the doctor, we were parents.”

Last year, I wrote about a newfound purpose and new perspective on health after going through what we did with the girls. What a difference a year makes. It was without a doubt one of the most challenging times in my and my wife, Jina’s, lives. As time went on and they grew stronger and the little smiles and giggles began to emerge, the sleepless nights and total change of lifestyle seemed insignificant (well, most of the time at least).

Watching the little ladies’ smash bananas on their face, explore the house like it’s a mystic cavern, suck on everything they can get their hands on, eat grass and light up with joy at every new experience has been the greatest gift I have ever received. The smiles, the innocence, the pure joy melts my heart very single day and gives me new reasons to make sure I not only am around for a long time, but can keep up with every new adventure and even teach them a thing or two as they grow older.

My definition of wellness now includes being patient when things get challenging, remembering to spend time focusing on relationships when sleep feels like the only good option, being mindful of those magical moments when the little ladies learn something new and finding balance in life. I’ve come to realize tomorrow may never come. It’s never about one day; it’s only about now. I hear so many professionals say “Once we get that new system,…” or, “Once we hire one more person,”… or, “If we just had fill-in-the-blank, things will get better.” Living is not about tomorrow, it’s about today.

For those joining us at our upcoming Summit, stay on the lookout for the tiny ladies as they may just make a special appearance. I invite you all to join me in celebrating the now and being grateful for the opportunity to love for one more day.

Ryan Picarella, President