November is the month we think about what we are grateful for in preparation of Thanksgiving. But November is also Prematurity Awareness Month, and today, November 17th, is World Prematurity Day. So this November, our family gives thanks for the birth and health of our preemie.
Did you know that in the U.S. each year, 1 in 10 babies is born preterm? That is nearly 400,000 babies. Prematurity is not talked about enough. NICU is not talked about enough. It is something we all do not plan for. But once you are at the hospital and in that situation, you need to talk about it, you need to plan for it.
When you get to the NICU, it is a completely different world. The baby has to do everything that they would have been doing inside mom. They don’t know how to eat, breathe, swallow, keep themselves warm, and are even too young to gain weight. It is sitting and just talking. Life in the NICU is one of the most intense and conflicting emotions to experience.
I learned all this on May 23rd. Happy due date that came too soon . . . the scariest day of my life.
When I got pregnant the second time, I expected a normal, healthy, uneventful 40 weeks before I had our baby. I wanted to take maternity photos again with a big ol’ round belly. I wanted to feel lots of kicks, my water breaking, and rushing to the hospital to have a beautiful healthy baby.
If I would have known how this would have started I would have been a bit more prepared (I did my best to be, though). But I wasn’t ready, none of us were; but a beautiful baby girl that came 12 weeks early, was ready. And to think all this had started on Friday the 13th with a severe bleed caused by our placenta.
We rushed to the hospital in the early morning.
We went through security, then to the ER, and finally to the birthing center to be examined. They hooked all the monitors up to find and hear baby. No heartbeat, where is it, what happened to you . . . then all of a sudden, thump thump thump thump. Tears of joy, you’re alive, but for how long, and why is this happening?
Saturday it would happen, all over again. This time, I knew baby was okay, but we were warned it could happen again.
We would later be known as a transfer patient since we were not at our planned hospital with PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes). We went through multiple treatments of magnesium and steroids. All of this would help our little girl for one more week until she decided to arrive.
During our next bleed episode, we learned my water broke.
We were told that the baby could still survive, but infections were now a risk. We listened and did everything the doctors told us to do to try and get us to at least 34 weeks, but that Monday, my placenta detached and caused us to go into labor.
I was rushed to the OR and the nurse was calling my husband, who was not at the hospital at the time. I heard the team trying to find a heartbeat and not being able to tell if they had the maternal or fetal heart rate. Please God, let our baby survive!
Next thing I remember, I was waking up and being asked if I remembered what had happened. I said yes and asked if I had a hysterectomy, as this was one of our side effects that could’ve happened with everything. They said no, and asked if I wanted to know about the baby. I now knew she survived, and I asked. It was a girl, and a feisty one, and her dad made it to see her get taken to NICU where she would stay–and I would practically live, too–for 10 weeks.
There are a lot of resources that can help you get through your premature birth.
- Graham’s Foundation: They educate and inform preemie parents so they feel empowered and confident while they navigate the journey of prematurity. They can even help you by placing you with a mentor to talk to and help you through your experience. While you are visiting this site, do not forget to get your FREE care package. We loved the different milestone cards to celebrate all the accomplishments, and the “Don’t Touch! I’m a Preemie!” card to hang on our carrier.
- My NICU Baby App: This app gives additional resources, helps track your NICU stay, and can even help you cope with the NICU experience.
- A NICU playlist: We loved listening to “NICU at Nite (The Preemie Song)” by Hugh Blumenfeld. The first few times you listen to it will make you tear up, because it will hit close to home, but honestly, it is a very happy and upbeat song that will make you smile. Some other great songs that got me through our journey:
- “Looking at You Through the Glass” by Stone Sour
- “Wires” by Athlete
- “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
- And after you get home and settled, check out Early On Michigan: This resource is FREE and will help your child with any developmental delay. Don’t wait though, as this is up to age three.
We’ve been home now for officially two months.
Lilly is doing well for five months old, two months adjusted. She is no long a 2lb 11oz baby, but now 10lbs and officially in 3-month clothing. We have temporarily graduated from eye exams as they had to check bi-weekly for Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
She got her first synagis shot to help protect from RSV, which we will now get every month until the spring. And at this moment she does not show any developmental delay to her adjusted age, but she qualifies for Early On, so we are going for monthly sessions to still help all her developmental needs.
–Guest submission from Susan Ehlich