Dear Hartley: A Mother's Micro-Preemie Birth Story

All of us here at Preemie Store love to see pictures of a little preemie in clothing, especially since it signals a significant milestone in their life. Nothing makes my day any brighter than when I am scrolling social media, and I come across a picture of a preemie wearing some of our clothing, or when a preemie parent shares some pictures with us. That is exactly how we first became aware of little Hartley; her Mom posted a photo of her in a Perfectly Preemie Gumdrop outfit. We have now come to love this little fighter and are so glad to follow her story on Instagram and see how well she is doing! I asked her Mom, Taylor, to share her birth story. It helps remind us again how blessed we are for great doctors and nurses that help these little fighters come out of the NICU winners!

Our NICU Journey by Taylor Moon

My husband and I knew before we even got married that we wanted to have a baby. After a year of trying and a miscarriage, we found out during the holiday season that we were expecting our rainbow baby. I gifted my husband with a onesie and a "best dad" mug for Christmas, giddy about our sweet bundle of joy on the way.

I was anxious during much of the first trimester. I remember vividly how relieved I was to feel the first kicks and often listened to the baby’s heartbeat on an at-home Doppler. We opted to do genetic testing via a blood test and were relieved when everything came back normal. From this test, we also found out we were having a girl. We started planning out her nursery and decided on a name. I had a relatively easy pregnancy. My biggest complaint was exhaustion that persisted through the first trimester. By about fifteen weeks I was feeling back to my normal self. I have always been pretty active and remained so during pregnancy. April 5, 2019, we spent most of the day walking around a small tourist town not far from home. The next day I experienced some spotting and went into my hospital’s OB triage at the direction of the on-call nurse. Our little girl looked great on the ultrasound and the bleeding had stopped. The doctor instructed me to follow up with an in-depth ultrasound the following Monday. That ultrasound also revealed nothing other than a healthy baby. I was sent home on no restrictions and told to call if the bleeding picked back up.

Exactly one week later I woke up feeling not quite my normal self. My back was bothering me and I assumed I had tweaked it in my sleep. After arriving at work I noticed I had some more spotting. I felt silly but called my doctor anyway. He told me if I was worried I could come in to be checked out. I left work early to be seen, which started the whirlwind that ended up being Hartley’s birthday. After being seen in the clinic my OB sent me to triage to be monitored. I wasn’t dilated or contracting but there was concern my water might have broken. We checked into the hospital at 3:30 pm, my water broke at 4:30, and by 5 it was determined that my placenta had abrupted. There was no way to stop Hartley from being born. At 5:40 pm, April 15th Hartley was born via a breech vaginal delivery. She was 23 weeks and 4 days of gestation, weighing a mere one pound four ounces and eleven inches in length. It was the most terrifying moment of my life.

Hartley came out fighting. She was intubated at my bedside before briefly being brought to me and then was taken to the NICU. My husband went with her, while I was attended to by the doctors and nurses. My OB talked to me using phrases like “random occurrence.” “no way of knowing” and “unlikely to happen again. ”I was in complete shock. The minutes' drug on as I waited for them to let me see my baby. At some point, my parents arrived in much of the same state.

Those first couple of weeks in the NICU were a blur. We quickly came to know the many doctors, nurses, and other staff that cared for our fragile daughter around the clock. A couple of moments stood out from those first weeks. Dr. Edwards, Hartley’s neonatologist telling us that her death was a real possibility. The first time I held her on Easter Sunday. How I bawled the first time they did her hands-on care without me. My love for her kept me going. As did the outpouring of support from family, friends, and even casual acquaintances. Even on our worst days, we had an army of people praying for our sweet girl.

As we have walked this journey we have learned countless things. That there are beeps you ignore and there are beeps you jump out of your chair for. That the nurses are your friends and a good nurse will fight as fiercely for your baby as you do. That telling your story can bring healing. And that it’s okay to not be okay. I started Hartley’s Instagram as a way to journal our day to day happenings. Through it, I have found a community of other preemie moms that understand our journey in a way that no one else can.
Hartley is now going on twelve weeks old. She is the strongest, bravest, sweetest little girl I know. While our parenthood journey isn’t conventional, we have learned to embrace it. We are hoping that we are on the downhill end of our NICU journey but as everyone that’s been in the NICU long enough knows, it’s a roller coaster. We intend to end it with our hands up, triumphant.”
If you would like to share your story with us, please 

send me a message and please tag us in your Instagram story so we can follow along your journey.

Thank you for reading,