This Former Preemie Takes Her First Steps in Mom's Emotional Tribute

Ashley Costanzo
Ashley Costanzo

There's nothing like hearing your baby's first words, watching her crawl for the first time, or being there on her very first day of kindergarten. Milestones are big moments for parents that let us know our kids are growing and thriving, and that our hard work is paying off. For parents like Ashley Costanzo, whose baby was born prematurely, each and every milestone represents a huge victory in her development. That's why the mom recently took to Facebook to celebrate her daughter's first steps in an emotional tribute that shows just how far her "miracle" preemie has come.

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Costanzo's daughter, Everly, was born weighing only 3 pounds, 2 ounces. In a post on the Love What Matters Facebook page, Costanzo explains that she had placental abruption -- a condition in which the placenta starts to separate from the inside of the uterus prior to birth -- and was forced to have an emergency C-section to save both herself and her unborn daughter.

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"I remember one anesthesiologist holding my hand and the other rubbing my head telling me how 'good I was doing' and 'it will be okay' as tears fell down my face," she recalls in her post. "I remember the conversations the Drs and nurses had that morning .... I remember hearing him say 'A few more hours and the baby would not have been here, and if Ashley had just gone back to bed, she may have not been here either.'"

In her post, Costanzo goes on to explain the early days of her daughter's life and the time they spent in the NICU. She talks about the challenges they faced -- like struggling to maintain Everly's weight -- but also celebrates the victories they've shared along the way.

"Holding her for the first time, even though it was for a few minutes, was the most magical day of my life," writes Costanzo. "We watched her physically grow eye lashes, nails grow longer, hair come and go, and finish developing into the little girl she is today."

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Everly is now 17 months old, thriving and learning how to walk. Costanzo says she wrote her post not only to commemorate the little girl's first steps, but also to offer support and encouragement to other moms and dads.

"My situation was not something I had ever even heard much about prior to its happening to me," Costanzo told CafeMom. "I think it's great to bring awareness to what a placental abruption is and how it not only effects mothers physically, but emotionally. After I had my daughter I had a huge passion to photograph NICU babies (I'm a photographer), and I found sharing my story helped bring amazing women and families into my life, and that I was able to use my gift to bless them during the hard times they were going through."

Ashley Costanzo
Ashley Costanzo

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Since Costanzo's post went up, it's been liked more than 12,000 times, and hundreds of parents have left moving comments detailing their own kids' premature births.

Though we don't often talk about it, the Centers for Disease Control estimates preterm birth affected around 1 in 10 babies born in the US in 2015. It's something thousands of parents face each year, and for those moms and dads, a post like Costanzo's can be a welcome source of hope and healing -- for both the reader and the writer.

"I wrote my entire birth story on a blog last February, and I had a lot of great feedback from women who were [going through] or did go through the same thing," Costanzo tells CafeMom. "I found writing down my personal story not only helped me in healing, but helped others too."

Nothing prepares a parent for a premature birth or the struggles and emotions that follow. But, Costanzo's loving tribute to her daughter is a welcome reminder to other parents of preemies of just how tough, brave, and strong these little fighters truly are.

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