Today I am thankful to be a thriving adult who was once a tiny fragile preemie.
I was born on Veterans Day thirty two years ago. I was six weeks premature and weighed only 3 lbs. 6 oz.
In pictures I am really small and there are IV’s, a bruised hand and my head was shaved.
I decided to interview my mom for this post because I’ve never experienced a preemie birth as a mother. I wanted to share my story from her point of view.
What are the details of my birth story? How did you know something was wrong?
Well, there’s a God thing that goes on in this story because I didn’t know anything was wrong. I was visiting with a friend who was pregnant and due in November and I was due in the latter part of December. She was telling me a story about someone she knew who hadn’t felt her baby move in a long time and when she went to the doctor, it was too late. I had taken Lamaze classes and I don’t remember ever being told to worry if you hadn’t felt the baby move but that got me thinking, “When did I last feel my baby move?” I couldn’t remember but knew it had been a while so I started really paying attention to your movement. I still didn’t feel you move for the rest of the day or overnight so I got up that morning and I went to the hospital.
I got to the nearest hospital (not where I was delivering you) and they hooked me up to the heart monitors. Once I heard your heartbeat, I was relieved and thought, “Okay, my baby is fine.” However, they realized I was contracting and began to monitor those as well. I couldn’t feel the contractions; they weren’t painful, but they told me you were having delayed decelerations. Basically, this meant that your heart would decelerate after the peak of the contraction rather than during and this was causing you stress.
I was transferred to the hospital where you were delivered and they tried to stop the contractions and monitored me for a little while. Less than 48 hours later you were delivered via emergency c-section because you were no longer handling the stress well.
But had my friend never told me that story, I wouldn’t have known to worry about your not moving and wouldn’t have gone to the hospital.
What were your fears and concerns?
Oddly enough, I wasn’t really fearful. I always knew you’d be okay. The idea of you not being okay never entered my mind because if it had, I think I would have cratered. I wouldn’t have been able to handle that. Either I was young and dumb or it was footprints in the sand. I think the latter. God carried us both.
Why did I have to be fed intravenously and is this why they had to shave my head?
The digestive system is one of the very last things to fully develop so preemies aren’t usually tolerant of food in the GI tract. We tried it and this was the case with you, so yes, you had to go on IV’s. They tried to use the veins in your feet and ankles first but your veins couldn’t hold up. So the last resort – and the biggest veins – was in the head. And yes, that’s why they shaved your head.
I was 10 days old when you held me for the first time. Why did you have to wait and what was it like holding me for the first time?
You were in an incubator. Preemies don’t have enough body fat to keep their temperature at 98.6 so the incubator does that for them. Plus it kept you isolated from germs and bacteria. Once you could maintain your body temperature and you got a little stronger, you could come “out” for a little while. You were totally out of the incubator when you were about two weeks old.
When I held you for the first time, I felt like I could finally exhale. I can still remember how your skin felt when I kissed you….how sweet your forehead smelled….how warm you felt in my arms. They only let me hold you for about ten minutes. And I cried when they took you from me.
I spent the first month of my life in the hospital. How did you feel when you knew I was coming home?
I was happy but scared at the same time because now I had to take care of you all by myself. It’s the only time I ever really worried.
What else would you like to share about our story or your experience with other expectant or preemie moms?
First, technology is much better now than it was then. Have faith in your doctors, yourself and God. And kiss your baby all the time!! Most preemies are in isolation the first few weeks of their lives, so they have some snuggling to catch up on. 🙂
I still have scars on my ankles and heels from needles in the NICU but aside from the tiny dots left behind, there aren’t any lasting effects of my being born six weeks too soon.
Not all premature birth stories have the same happy ending as mine.
To learn more about the problem or be a part of the solution, check out March of Dimes.
Happy blogging and healthy babies,