How many premature babies do you have? Olivia is our second child, she was born at 32 weeks. We also have a two year old little boy who was born at term, on his due date
How long were they hospitalised for? Olivia was in the NICU/SCN for 29 days. She was discharged at what would have been 36 weeks gestation.
Is there any prematurity in your families history? No, there was no prematurity in our family histories that we were aware of. A premature birth was not something I ever imagined would happen to me and as such skipped through this information when reading my birth books. Olivia’s prematurity was due to my placenta rupturing.
How did you cope with the world of prematurity when your child/children were born? My husband had been travelling for work for approx 4 weeks and had just come home. In the week before Olivia’s arrival from the Wednesday to the Saturday I was having “braxton hicks”. My husband and I went out to dinner and a movie on the Saturday night as a welcome home from his travel and during the movie we contemplated leaving because my “braxton Hicks” were so painful. I should have listened to my husband who said lets call your OB, but I thought no, its far to early for the pain to be real, I’ll be fine. Then on the Sunday night, we went to bed at 10.30pm and again, the “braxton hicks” were painful but also regular at 6-7 mins apart. I couldn’t sleep and I was waiting for them to go away and at 1.30am I got up to use the bathroom and found myself in a pool of blood. I screamed for my husband and we called our hospital for advice. They told me to come in, but at this stage still thinking it was too early for it to be real, I didn’t take my bags (which actually weren’t even packed yet). The saving grace was that my husband at the last minute grabbed the camera so we did get to capture some beautiful photos. We bundled our 2 year old into the car and dropped him off at my parents house. Unfortunately, upon exam by my OB it was discovered that I was indeed in labour and my OB tried to stop the labour but to no avail. An ultrasound was ordered to see how big Olivia was and if in fact I could deliver at my planned hospital. Unfortunately, she was too small and before I knew it, I was in an ambulance off to a hospital with a NICU. Up until this stage I was naively excited about getting to skip the last few weeks of pregnancy and get to just have my baby early, it had not dawned on me at all that I would not be taking her home for weeks and weeks, what felt like a gut wrenching eternity. In terms of coping I put up a brave front, I was positive and reported her weight gains increases in milk intake to friends etc but when I left the hospital every day I would cry all the way home, sometimes my husband could calm me down when I got home, sometimes not. I found the separation and the situation unbearable. I think I put on a brave front because I have always been a strong person but underneath, every time I had to leave the hospital it was extremely painful. I also found it hard leaving my 2 year old each day. He knew I was going to see`Bubby’ but was distressed that I was not around for him. This also added to stress levels! Luckily my parents were an amazing support.
How did you feel when you first saw your child/children after they were born? When I saw Olivia for the first time, to me, she didn’t seem small, sick or in need of the NICU (still very naive!) she just looked like the baby girl I had always dreamed of having but when they told me she only weighed 1989g and was 43cm I felt sick, guilty and responsible for not being able to carry her to term and give her the best start to life as I had done with my son. I can however remember looking at her when she was placed briefly on my chest and looking into her big blue eyes, it was a beautiful moment that I can still vividly remember now when I close my eyes even though the rest of the night/days/weeks events are a little blurry. When I was taken to see her in the NICU it was gut wrenching, she was so tiny, so fragile, so sweet. I desperately wanted to pick her up and comfort her and tell her I was not going to leave her bedside, I was going to protect her. All of the iv’s and tubes etc were extremely scary to look at.
Did you find it hard deciding to have another baby or have you decided no more? It is still early stages, we are both still healing from the trauma of Olivia’s birth. I think that we are extremely lucky to have a healthy little boy and girl and at this stage, we have decided no more.
Have there been any lasting complications due to your child/children’s prematurity? if so how have you dealt with it? Olivia is now 16 weeks and doing wonderfully! She is truly remarkable. She only required CPAP for 24 hours and then went straight on air. She slowly but surely put on weight, and after 29 days, was able come home with us. She did have bilateral inguinal hernias, which were operated on and is suffering from reflux but has been prescribed medication and it is not bothering her. We are so unbelievably thankful that there are no lasting complications, we continually count our blessings.
How do you feel now about prematurity and how do you help others be aware of how serious it is for babies? A premature birth can happen to anyone. I did not drink, smoke, take drugs or do anything detrimental and it happened to me. I hope that by sharing my story it can give parents who are currently still separated from their baby inspiration to know that their baby will eventually come home and that one day this will be a distant memory. It is hard to explain to those who have not experienced a pre term birth how it feels, it is extremely painful to see your baby suffer, to not be able to pick them up and hold them, to sit with them day in and day out but feel like you are not officially their mother just a visitor and I don’t think you can ever describe just how it feels to leave your baby in the care of others, it is not just as simple as walking away and coming back the next day, it is indescribable. I would also like to be the little voice in expectant mothers’ heads that says if something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait, speak to your hospital or OB, it is better to be safe than sorry!
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