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Challenge: NICU Parenting

Raelyn Stanley NICU baby born at 24 weeks

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My Husband Adam and I are honored to share our story here with each of you today, as very blessed parents of a Micro Preemie baby. Who was born at exactly 24 weeks gestational age, weighing in at 1 pound and 4.6 ounces and 11 ½ inches long. Who is now a very healthy beautiful little 6 year old.

At 22 weeks of my pregnancy, I started encountering a few complications, that I didn’t really think anything of until about a week later on June 2, 2011; Whenever I had to go to the doctor any to find out that I was suffering from “Premature Rapture Of The Membrane.” My OBGYN wanted to rush me to Erlanger Hospital; He told me that in the next 24 hours I would be having my baby. At 23 weeks & 2 days of your pregnancy , those where NOT the words that ANY mother ever wants to hear. As I began to cry in fear for my babies life, he hugged my neck and told me not to worry that he was sending me to one of the best hospitals with the BEST of BEST NICU”S statewide. He went on telling me how he delivered a baby born at 23 weeks that did just fine, for me not to worry nor stress that my baby would do just fine also; That before I would know it I would have my precious little girl in my arms. As anxious as we were to meet our baby, we were not ready for all of this to be happening so soon.

As we got to Erlanger, I received only what sounded like more bad news. They told me that babies born at 23 week gestational age only had about a 10% chance of survival; However if I could hold off till we reached 24 weeks of gestational age , her survival chances would increase to the 30 percentile. Although there was still a 20% chance of her having severe brain bleeds, being blind, being deaf, along with many more complications that could accrue. As they proceeded telling us everything to expect and what to be aware of; I felt myself growing weaker. I wasn’t for sure why my baby and I are having to go through this; But then again Why does ANY mother and child have to go through this?

As I received my first dose of steroid shots to help try develop my babies lungs, it started easing my mind somewhat. That night I remember praying, begging Jesus Christ our Savior to prove that he is able to do the impossibly. After all he made the blind man see and the cripple walk, so I knew he was MORE than able to save my baby. I prayed that I would at least make it to my 24th week of pregnancy and that my baby would be ok. Despite everything that was going on We NEVER lost our Faith. We were not sure if I could ever even conceive a baby, and after praying and begging God for a baby; We just couldn’t see him finally giving us this precious little gift, just to take back from us so soon. So we prayed that his Will would be done, and we told him that we was leaving in his hands.

As I received my second dose of steroid shots for our babies lungs the following day, our mind and heart was once again eased a little more. For EVERYDAY that I stayed pregnant counted a WHOLE lot!!

On the morning of June 6, 2011, I hit my 24th week of pregnancy; meaning Raelyn’s survival chances doubled!! Jesus Christ was answering our prayers! Let me remind you all of the doctors were telling me that I would be giving birth within 24 hours whenever I came in; I was now on my 5th day of bed rest at Erlanger.. However my contractions started getting heavier and were coming every 3-9 min all day long. Finally at 9:22 p.m, I was rushed into the OR because ready or not Miss Raelyn was about to make her grand appearance. At 9:33 p.m , I gave birth all naturally to the most beautiful, tiniest little girl, we have EVER laid our eyes on!! NEVER in our life had we ever seen a baby sooo little, let alone ever imagined our little girl being so tiny.
Raelyn came into this world trying to breath on her own, but of course her lungs were so little and fragile she had to be incubated. But she was perfect with all ten little bitty toes and finger, not to mention a head full of hair.

I will NEVER forget walking into the NICU for the first time; with all the noise, the beeps of her pal-sac and the humming from the vibration of her ventilator. It was my first good look at her! She had so many tubes and cords ran to her and little chest was vibrating from the ventilator. But she was just as beautiful as we could have imagined. She was so tiny, its hard to describe without you seeing it with your own eyes. Our wedding rings fit all the way on her little arm and all the way up on her leg. We never in our life seen a baby so little. It was the worst feeling in the world and it hurt so bad, seeing your baby lay there so helpless; and you as the mother and father couldn’t pick her up to hold her or kiss her. We couldn’t hold her to comfort her and we couldn’t take away her pain. As parents you are suppose to be able to kiss your childs boo boo’s and take away that pain that scared feeling and this is one time we couldn’t… We often wondered if she was in pain and where was she hurting at? Because as a baby she couldn’t tell us where she was hurting or how bad she was hurting.. She couldn’t even cry.

Within 12 hours of having our baby, we were fortunate to be able to check her temperature and to change her diaper for the first time..(some parents have to go days before touching there child) But just that little thing that doesn’t seem like such a big deal meant the absolute WORLD to us. As parents that didn’t get to touch and hold their baby that barely even got a glimpse of their baby, this was the best thing ever.. So as parents we remind you to never take these little things for granted.

Raelyn was almost a month on July 1st, 2011 whenever we first got to hold her and kiss that sweet little face of hers; and there is NOTHING that compares to that feeling of your child being placed in your arm for the very first time, and the nothing compares to you being able to kiss those sweet cheeks that you have waited so long to kiss.. I would say the first month was the hardest not being able to hold nor kiss your baby, no one knows how that feel and bad it hurts unless you have been there. However we had an absolutely wonderful community standing behind us helping us with prayers and encouraging words during these hard times, that we will forever be grateful. Because of their prayers along with our prayers, we have our beautiful little miracle here with us today!!

We were warned that during our time there at the NICU we would be on a roller coaster; Raelyn would have good days and not so good days, that she would take 1 step forwards and then take 2 steps backwards. All though she never really had an setbacks, of course we had a few scares during our stay, but God was their for us to lean upon and he guided us through it. He gave the Doctors and Nurses the knowledge that they needed to care for our baby.. Even though we didn’t really have any setback, we watched sooo many other babies go through some serious sicknesses; Not only preemie babies but as well as full term babies! Seeing these innocent little babies fight for their lives, fighting for that next breath the take, was one of the hardest things you will ever see, and it wasn’t easy by no means. Because you never knew whenever your baby could take a turn and be right there along with them. Raelyn Never had any sort of brain bleed , her site was progressing perfectly normally, her hearing was perfect and everything was developing perfectly normal. The only surgery she had to have was a PDA surgery which was a small heart surgery that closes up the heart valve that all babies are born with, which most of all preemies have to have; but she did well with this as also.

Our new home was the Ronald McDonald House, that we were very grateful for, because of them we were able to stay with our baby every day and every night, but still yet had a place across the street that we could go get a few hours of rest before getting up and starting all over again the next day. Because of them we got to be by our baby side at all times.

After a long 108 days of the NICU, on September 20th, 2011, we got to bring our sweet girl home!! The nurses told us time after time what a little Miracle we had, that they NEVER see a baby born 16 weeks early come in there and face no problems do as well as she had done, and come home before my due date.. That they wanted me to know that it was nothing that they had done, that it was simply ALL GOD!! After a 108 days there those nurses became a part of our family, and we are so thankful for what they have done for us, and we are thankful for what they all do for those babies up there. We had the best nurses ever, still to this day they are a part of Raelyn’s life . Because of the nurses dedication they give day after day I feel like it played a big roll in Raelyn’s health.. I feel like she felt their love and compassion for her and she knew between them and God she was in good hands.. I know it helped me mentally and emotionally seeing how much they admired my baby as well as the other babies. It made it much easier to go lay down my head at night knowing she was in good hands and knowing that they would do whatever it took to keep her safe… I loved being able to ask questions and without any hesitation they would explain to me and take their time explaining it to me, making sure I was clear on whatever my concerns were…Erlanger NICU is the best ever!!

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