Premature Babies

My mother had two children, with absolutely no complications during both pregnancies. I was approximately six years older than she had been when I was to have her first grandbaby, but I still thought that if she didn’t have any complications I should also be fine. I took folic acid for probably over a year before we even tried to get pregnant. I took my prenatal vitamins religiously. My mother and my husband helped to make sure I ate good foods and I never lifted too much etc. No medicines despite a horrid cold at around 10 weeks, no smoky rooms… I was reading several pregnancy books but none prepared me for an afternoon around 14 weeks that I started bleeding rather heavily. One scary trip to the ER, praying every moment that I wasn’t losing the baby, and we found out I had Placenta Previa. My first glimpse at a very mobile and very much breathing baby via sonogram was the only good moment of that trip! Placenta Previa is a condition where the placenta is too close to the birth canal and heavy bleeding can occur. I had to be cautious with how I moved about for a week or two and went for another sonogram. Luckily, at that early in the pregnancy the placenta still is likely to move a bit and it did move away enough from the birth canal that bleeding stopped and all seemed well again.

However, around 27 weeks my legs began to swell regularly. I had to buy bigger shoes etc. The doctor put me on a low sodium diet and gave me tips on how to handle the swelling. They watched me carefully and I took extensive blood sugar tests, urine tests etc. At 35 weeks there was a large amount of protein in my urine and my blood pressure was up. I was put on bed rest and was to come in several times a week. However, on the second visit my reflexes were going nutty and the blood pressure was even higher. The doctor had us immediately go the hospital were I was to be put on medication for Pre eclampsia as well as to be induced into labor. I was excited and frightened at the same time. I had done everything the doctor’s, family and books had told you to do to have a great pregnancy, but it felt like my body was betraying me.

The medicine was horrible. It caused horrible double-vision problems and nightmares like I’ve never had in my life. However, my little girl arrived at 1:29 p.m. the next day with no problems. She was all of 4 pounds and had a huge amount of dark hair like her daddy had sported at his birth. At 35 weeks, all of the books had said she should weigh about 5.5 pounds and I was instantly worried. The momentous joy of her birth felt tarnished, by my drugged state, double vision and her low weight. It was not what I had envisioned. She was breathing well on her own though and she was beautiful, but she was whisked off to the NICU where all of my family could visit her and I was unable to for a couple of days.

At first, I was jealous of the time my family and all of the nurses had with my baby, but I later came to value this extensive group of knowledgeable people. It was still terribly hard to leave the hospital once I myself was well enough to go. I surprised myself with my own tears. I hadn’t expected I would be so emotional to leave her in the hospital’s care. You just don’t envision that you will go home without the baby. My baby girl was put under the famous blue lights for Jaundice and hooked to a monitor. She soon had a tube down her nose for feedings because that was her main battle – learning to eat on her own. She learned fairly quickly to regulate her own body temperature and we were thankful that she never had a problem with breathing as many preemies do. After 16 days we were able to take her home on Halloween of 2005. It was certainly not how we envisioned the birth of our first child would go and it was scary to take home an infant of not quite five pounds. We were thrilled, but the doctors suggested we didn’t take her out in public, even to church or the grocery store for her first 3 months of life due to the deadly threat of RSV. We couldn’t have a lot of visitors either. I had to instruct grandmas and well meaning relatives on why we couldn’t go visiting for the holidays. The grandparents came to visit us and were very patient on using the germ-X and not coming by if they even thought they “might” have a cold.

Even parents with babies born at the natural time go through some of this, but when you’ve seen your child so tiny, with tubes and monitors, battling to keep their own body weight – it intensifies it to a level you can’t imagine unless you’ve been through it. Now my little girl is so big and I am in awe at how great she is doing. She’s still a little behind on learning to eat her table food, but I know she’ll get the knack of it – just like she learned the first time, to feed with the bottle instead of through that dreaded tube in her nose!