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Challenge: NICU Parenting

Sometimes the smallest are the strongest-mom of a preemie

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How our NICU story began...after what seemed like a long day of work thinking about devouring a big mac and fries from Mcdonalds, I decided I would head directly to the golden arch before heading home and resting my overly tired pregnant body. As I placed my order and moved slowly through the drive-thru line I felt a warm presence of fluid in my pants. Shocked and confused I thought to myself surely I didnt just pee my pants! So I quickly looked for some napkins that I saved from previous trips to fast food restaurants so I could do a wipe test to see exactly what it was that I felt. As I looked at the napkin there was a mucousy clear liquid that I did not recognize. Relieved that it wasnt blood but at the exact same time overcome with this overwhelming feeling that something wasnt right casted over me. I immediately called the emergency doctor line to my OBGYN office and left a message. After returning my call a few minutes later I was instructed to go to the ER for the birthing unit. As I arrived home to change my pants because by this time they were soaked, and of course we lived in a 2 story home with our bedroom being at the top. As I ran as quickly as I could up the stairs I was leaking everywhere, panicked and scared I called my mom who lives a few blocks from us. Needless to say she arrived within minutes and we were on our way to the hospital. The next call went to my fiance who was working third shift in another town about 45 minutes away. I was unable to reach him. Once we arrived to the hospital I was informed my water broke, and at this stage they do not try and stop the delivery. Never ever did it cross my mind through my pregnancy that pre-term labor could be a possibility especially at just 29 wks. I was transfered to a bigger hospital via ambulance with a more adequate neonatal department. I think at this point I was in absolute shock, nothing made scense to me. I thought I was doing everything right in preparation for a healthy, full term baby. In the meantime my parents reached my fiance and he was at the hospital waiting for me to arrive. The moment I arrived onto the birthing unit I was hooked up to multiple machines with IVs attached, and all of the nurses were moving very quickly to get everything set up. Although my water broke I wasnt having any contractions but was told that could change at any moment. I ended up staying pregnant for exactly 7 days. During the week leading up to delivery is a fuzzy memory filled with expert neonatal doctors and nurses checking on the baby as well as myself for any signs of changes. Everyone was sharing information and statistics about a viable delivery. The term viable stuck with me, and still hasnt left my memories of that time before delivery. I just kept thinking, please be viable and we would deal with anything else, just please dont die. Well on week 30 my baby boy was born during the nurses shift change in the early morning. He was absolutely perfect. 2lbs 14oz. I didnt get to hold him, or even touch him after delivery. He was shuttled upstairs to the NICU and I would get to see him once he was determined stable enough. It was about an hour later that I was able to visit my boy. He was just a little thing but when I looked at him I knew he was a survivor. He was in his incubator and he was able to hear my voice for the first time although I had to talk through arm windows so he could hear me. I was talking to my baby and that was all that mattered to me in that moment. I was able to hold him using a special form of contact called skin to skin. The nurse placed him on my bare chest with him in just a diaper. I cannot explain what this felt like in just a few words. I didnt get to pick him up and hold him like a full term baby, he didnt get to wear onzies and start to learn how to suckle so he can go home in just a few short days. My son was hooked up to continuos monitors, feeding tubes, and spent 2 months in an incubator while his bassinet waited at home for him. He was monitored 24 hrs by nurses and doctors who charted his every change. These people who cared for my child in a way that I couldnt will forever hold a place in my heart. I can never repay them for this. I spent my very first mothers day in his room with a lactation specialist teaching him and myself how to breastfeed in hopes he would eat enough to be able to go home. The months we spent in the nicu were definitely trying and my emotions would change day to day. But the happiness that my child survived and I was able to show him my love out weighed anything else I was feeling. Today we have a healthy almost 3 yr old with the biggest personality I've ever seen in a child. He has been age corrected and has hit all of his milestones that any child would be required to meet. So we are lucky and fortunate to be able to share our story of success with the nicu community. We hope by sharing our story it can educate women about pre-term labor and premature birth. As of today there has been no explanation for why my water broke that day, and for a long time I blamed myself. With time and education i've learned to accept that maybe we will never know why, but maybe another family will be able to know why with the contributions from people like the Today show. Thank you all so much for giving me this platform to share my story.

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