Dr. Skol looked me in the eye and said, “you are having this baby today.” My husband held my hand as I finally accepted this truth and delivered my son at 25 weeks and 1 day.
My husband, Eric, and I were in Vancouver on our "baby moon." We live in Los Angeles and I was excited about just the two of us traveling for a few days before the baby arrived. One day into the trip I started bleeding and we were rushed to BC Women's Hospital. My cervix opened with no explanation. Every single day, every single hour in the womb makes a difference, especially between 23 - 25 weeks where significant development occurs. I held onto him for five more days.
On April 19, our son was born, weighing 700 grams, 13 inches tall. We named him Aiden, fiery one, because we knew our entire family needed a mantra we could get behind.
Dr. Skol warned us that most babies born this early don't cry and they have to rush them to the NICU. I delivered Aiden naturally and he wailed at birth. His rating was 8, 10, 10. There was hope.
We consider ourselves the lucky ones. Aiden spent 97 days in the NICU and survived chronic lung disease and multiple infections; he had three blood transfusions, a spinal tap and many setbacks. He miraculously avoided NEC, brain bleeds and worse. The doctor described the NICU journey the best way Eric and I could understand: it's like the stock market. You have to ride the ups and downs, but you never sell.
The emotional toll of the NICU journey is crippling. I remember a moment where I broke down to the lowest point in my life. The guilt I carried about my failed body made me feel ashamed, as though I lost my value as a woman, a mother. The fact that this failure was causing so much pain to my child, my husband, myself, was hard to reconcile.
But life has a way of moving on. My mother taught me to find the silver lining in every setback in life and to laugh, even as I cry. I dealt with my emotions the best I could, and worked towards a positive outlook of hope for Aiden's survival. And he did survive. While this isn't the life we imagined, this is his life.
When Aiden was discharged, we packed up our bags, thanked the Ronald McDonald House for providing a place for us to live, and flew home to Los Angeles.
Our Canadian little fire is now 18 months old. The journey doesn't end at discharge and the multiple therapies and tests can take a toll. But it's all worth it.
I wrote about our entire NICU journey: aidenjameselliott.com
Thanks for letting me share my story.