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Challenge: NICU Parenting

We are having a GIRL! And she can't wait to meet us...

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Motherhood started early for me. My first born son was born when i was 19 years old. I thought this "motherhood" thing is tough! I obviously had no idea what would come 10 years later. Our third pregnancy was full of wonder and excitement. A mother of 2 boys, I was longing to hear those 3 words announced to me; It's A Girl!!! Dad and I were beyond ourselves after hearing that we would be expecting our first baby girl. Little did we know that our baby girl would be too excited to meet us as well that she would come earlier than expected.

The gender reveal appointment informed us that the pregnancy would be a little bumpy due to this think called "Placenta Accreta". I had never heard of this until now. My care was transferred to Sharp Mary Burch Hospital for Women and Infants in San Diego, Ca. I would go regularly to my appointments and was planning my stay and arranging the "due date" with time to make sure everything was in place. I was originally due July 15, 2015. At the end of April, I developed Pancreatitis and was hospitalized at our local hospital. I thought for sure I will go home in a couple of days. I started having contractions and my OB-GYN decided to air lift me to San Diego where my High Risk Obstetrician was. In the beginning, this trip was meant for monitoring. I was told I could possibly go home in a week. I was so anxious to go back home to my kids and my husband but also feeling uncertain about my medical situation. After having all these tests and ultrasounds done, i was informed that due to my high risk pregnancy and high possibility of bleeding, I would have to stay hospitalized until my due date. Hearing those words and knowing my boys and family were 2 hours away completely devastated me. I knew in my heart that in order for me and our baby girl to survive, this sacrifice had to be done.

Days passed without much action. Daily baby monitoring and a bunch of blood draws! My family would come every weekend to see me and my husband would bring our boys to see "mommy". I would long for the weekend to get here only for it to never be long enough. I would cry my little eyes out every time my boys would leave. On May 27th, I woke up just like any other day. My husband was with me for the day. I stood up to stretch when i felt a gush of blood my whole world stopped. I had just turned 31 weeks. My husband calmly called the nurses and informed them of what was happening. We were having our little girl today.

I have always had a hard time before surgeries. I get all jittery and start shaking. This time, I had no time to even think it. I was rushed to the surgery room where I would wake up 3 hours later. I faintly remember hearing our little girl cry after she was born. It was the first thing I asked my husband about. Where is she? During the 3 hours that I was sedated, he was able to see her and cut her umbilical cord. I longed to see her and hold her. It would take me 3 days to finally do that. Due to the circumstances and excessive bleeding, I needed a hysterectomy. I was in intensive care for 2 days dosing in and out due to the pain medication. On May 30th, our little miracle baby came into my room to visit me. I could not hold my tears in! In that moment, all the pain and anguish I was going through completely vanished. Everything around me disappeared and I only had eyes for her. The visit must've lasted 10 minutes but for me it seemed like 10 seconds. It was just not enough cuddling.

In a normal situation, being discharged home would have brought a smile to my face. Not in this case. I was being sent home without our baby girl. Now remember, we lived 2 hours away from the hospital where we delivered. We had applied for the Ronald McDonald House but knew it might take days for approval. Meanwhile, our baby girl would have to stay in the NICU until she gained some weight. As we were sadly packing up our room, my husbands cell phone rings with the news that Ronald McDonald's House has a room for us. Amidst all this chaos and uncertainty, a glimpse of hope! We would be 1/2 mile away from our baby girl instead of 150. Still not close enough.

We would be in the NICU day and night until it was time to go sleep. And even then, sleep wouldn't come easy. Gabrielle, our daughter, was 3.8 lbs and she needed to gain at least a lb before being considered for discharge. Every feeding I would pray for her to finish all of the tiny little bottle and every weigh in I would rejoice in a single gram she would gain. Her first bath was in one of those pink squared hospital baskets instead of in her ducky at home. Her first feeding wasn't by me but by one of the many wonderful NICU nurses that attended her.

Finally the day came where we could take Gabrielle home. It was June 9th, 2017. A day full of emotions. Happiness, gratefulness and definitely feeling scared. All this time, I've had these wonderful medical team guiding me. It's all in our hands now. The drive home seemed like it took forever. Everyone was so anxious to finally have us home. I was glad to be back home where I had the presence of my loved ones within arms reach.

It's been 2 1/2 years since our preemie arrived and I still get teary eyed every time I think or talk about out experience. In the end, everything that we went through is worth it. To see that little chunky face and hear those little feet running down our hall.





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