Can you share with us your story?
My daughter was born in 2018 via emergency cesarean at 29 weeks gestation due to severe preeclampsia. After her birth I was thrown into the whirlwind that is the NICU, fighting beside my two pound baby for two long months before she was well enough to come home. My daughter fought many battles due to prematurity. She struggled with multiple lung collapses, respiratory distress syndrome, feeding issues, apnea and bradycardia episodes, retinopathy of prematurity, re-hospitalizations, and now battled lung disease and very mild cerebral palsy.
In early 2022 I found out I was expecting again, this time a baby boy. After my experience with prematurity this news brought a certain level of fear. I trekked through the pregnancy with my son, preeclampsia free. Due to complications with my daughters emergent delivery I needed to deliver my son via scheduled cesarean at 36 weeks. Although I had time to prepare for another technically premature baby I was not prepared for another NICU stay or complications because I felt he was much less premature than my daughter. When my son was born he was quickly brought to the NICU for oxygen support and diagnosed with respiratory distress syndrome, a complication of prematurity that can happen in “late pre-term” babies. I found myself in the NICU again: Changing diapers while fighting through wires, asking permission to touch or hold my baby, watching monitors that displayed oxygen levels and heart rates, listening to monitors alert when my baby was not getting enough oxygen, and learning new medical terminology. After 12 long days we brought my son home. What is your current mama win?
Breastfeeding has been a lot harder than I imagined but I haven’t given up and I’m really proud of myself and my body!
Can you share with us a specific moment that has since been challenging for you?
Both of my childrens births were challenging moments for me mentally. Not having my expectations met as my children entered the world was difficult. In particular it was gut wrenching having to leave my babies in the hospital when I was discharged home. My journey into motherhood on both occasions were not filled with taking in that newborn scent, skin to skin, and oxytocin bliss. Instead I was left anxious about my childrens health status and longing for a bonding experience.
What did you wish other mamas knew about the preemie experience?
Prematurity often has long term health consequences. Before becoming a preemie mom I thought preemies were just small babies but in reality prematurity comes with many challenges and obstacles often unspoken of.
What is special about your little one?
Both of my children are fiercely resilient and strong. I’m so proud of them and all they have overcome in such a short time.
What is one piece of advice or inspiration you would give other mamas who also have gone through or are going through this?
There are so many challenges and emotions that come with motherhood. Unfortunately, prematurity and a NICU stay (no matter how long), adds an extra layer of complicated emotions and challenges. Reach out for support through social media and find others who have tread the waters of prematurity and a NICU experience before. You are not alone in navigating this experience. Having a support system of women who understand what you are going through to lift you up and lend an ear to listen makes a difference.