As I mentioned yesterday, today is "Fight for Preemies Day". This awareness campaign is near and dear to my heart because our oldest son was born very premature. He was born at a gestational age of 25 weeks.
Our journey on the preemie roller coaster began at the end of June in 2006 when I started having some slight bleeding and cramping. I went to the hospital and they kept me over night and then sent me home on modified bed rest. That was on a Friday and on Sunday I started having the bleeding again and we again rushed off to the hospital.
I went into the hospital and was examined by the ob on call. At that point I wasn't dilated. He decided to have a specialist come and do an ultra sound. The on call doctor came within an hour and half and went to examine me and his eyes got huge. I had gone to 6 centimeters that quickly. Everyone jumped into action and fortunately they were able to stop my labor.
The next ten days were some of the most difficult of my life. I was in the hospital, not allowed to get out of bed for any reason and the bed was tilted so that I was basically lay with my feet positioned upward to let gravity help keep the baby inside. I could only lay on my sides, which makes you very, very soar after a while. I was also put on some awful medications to help stop my labor contractions.
On July 4th, I started getting worse and running a fever. Unfortunately, I had some kind of infection and it was starting to affect the baby. I had hoped to keep him in longer, but the ob who was on call told us that we had to go ahead and deliver because the baby was getting sick and it was better to have a premature baby than a sick baby. The medications they had us on stopped working to control the infection. By eight o'clock on July 4th, we knew a baby was coming and our fire works were beginning. They thought my labor would go quickly, but the doctor came in around eleven o'clock and had to break my water. We kept watching the clock thinking we were having a fourth of July baby, but our little monkey decided to stay put a little longer and was born three minutes after midnight.
Our son was a whopping 1 pound, 12 ounces and was 13 inches long. 13 inches. I told folks, just look at a ruler and add an inch. That is how long he is. His little head was literally the size of an orange.
The Neonatalogist came in and spoke with us to level with us on what we would be dealing with. He was a statistics man and the statistics weren't good with having just had a baby so premature. There were all kinds of awful things that could happen. I remember looking at the doctor and telling him my baby was a miracle. He rolled his eyes and told me bluntly that he'd already had three miracles born that month at the other hospital where he had rounds and that if I said that my baby was a miracle again, he was kicking him out of the NICU. Ok, I'm a person that believes the Lord has a purpose for everything. So I kept my mouth shut, said a prayer and knew that this doctor would eat his words.
I remember that we weren't able to go and see our son until later that morning. I was so nervous because they had whisked him away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and I didn't know what to expect. They had tried to show him to me right after I delivered him, but I was in pain from not having any meds (yeah, natural child birth, very over rated) and getting stitched up so I really didn't get to see him until that moment. I remember dh wheeling me into the tiny room where they had him and he was so small. I felt so awkward because I didn't know what to say, but I just talked to him. I was trying to not choke up because I needed to be strong and reassuring and comforting for him. It was very hard to see him with so many wires coming out of him and him hooked up to the ventilator.
Within the first twenty four hours, we received our first blessing. He was able to come off the ventilator. We were warned that he just as easily could go back on it. But we were blessed that he was a strong fighter and never went back on the ventilator.
From the very beginning, we were warned that the stay in the NICU would be a roller coaster of ups and downs. They told us not to expect our baby to come home before his due date of October 12th and he may not even be home by then. All kinds of scary things could happen.
The first two weeks were very difficult for dh and I. We were afraid of our own child. Afraid to get attached to him, fearing the worst that we could lose him in an instant. We didn't even want to touch him, afraid that even doing that could put him at risk for an infection because his little skin was so fragile. I spent the first month feeling like I was in a daze. Trying to make sense of a senseless situation. It wasn't until about a week after he was born that we had what would come to be one of our favorite NICU nurses push us to touch our baby through the isolette. She had also had a preemie years before and knew how we were feeling. We found a number of the NICU nurses had been in our position.
I got into a routine of going to the NICU every day which started to bring a sort of comfort to me. I was able to participate in my child's care which helped me form a bond with him. Because it is so important for your baby to hear your voice, I would bring books to read to him. After a while you run out of things to say.
We were very blessed that over the course of Sawyer's NICU stay, he really didn't have any "major" set backs. At one point we were possibly facing him having to have heart surgery, but we had a miracle that a medication that wasn't favorable for working for him did work. Any time something came up that looked like it would be an issue, we had friends and family pray and the prayers were answered.
On the day that my son was released, the doctor I mentioned above was our discharge doctor. Now, I think it is only fair that I mention that we had the opportunity to get to know this doctor during our son's NICU stay and while his bed side manner is gruff, he is a very caring individual who is a wonderful doctor and I knew my son was in the best care when he was on duty. This doctor started to go over our discharge and was reviewing my son's chart. As he looked through the chart he said, "You all never had any major set backs, did you?" At that point I looked at him and said, "You probably don't remember this, but the day this child was born I told you he was a miracle. And you told me if I said that you would kick him out of your NICU. Well I'm here today to tell you again that this child is a miracle and you can now kick him out of your NICU." He smiled at me and said, "Well, I won't say he is a miracle, but he has had a miraculous stay." He also said that in twenty five years of practice, my son was only one of three children he has seen do so well during their stay.
Remember when I told you that we were told not to expect our baby home by his due date of October 12th? Our son came home to us on September 27th.
Our story is one of how God does miracles even today. There were so many things that happened during our son's stay that I know God was watching over us. If you wonder if miracles still happen, you only have to look at the pictures below to have that question answered.
While we have been very blessed to have a fairly healthy child, we still worry as the parents of a preemie. Our son is now 3 years old. We are working on his speech. Things like H1N1 are especially scary since he is still considered high risk.
While it hasn't been easy having a child born so premature, dh and I couldn't imagine our life without our little Sawyer. He is such a sweet boy, we know the Lord has special plans for his life. That has already been shown to us from the beginning.
This is a picture of me having "kangaroo care" with Sawyer. It would help him to lay on my chest in my shirt. Whenever we would do that his breathing would do so well. They were always amazed at how well he did. He would cry like a little kitten when they would take him away to put him back in the isolette. It would break my heart.
In order to show friends and family just how small our little guy was, we put dh's wedding ring around his arm. See the ring around his arm?
Remember when I told you he was born an inch longer than a ruler? He he is in perspective to a pencil.
This is my sweet, 3 year old today with his little brother. We were blessed to have some wonderful specialists who figured out I have an incompetent cervix, thus the reason I went into premature labor. They were able to help me to keep from having a second premature baby. We are so blessed with our two boys.
Thanks for stopping by today and reading my story. I hope it helps others who might be going through this. Having a premature baby is something no mother should have to experience
*Note: These pictures are copyright and property of the Chic Crafty Chick blog and may not be used without written permission.
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