The Long Road Home for a Preemie
We have recently written blog posts titled, "Preemie Parent - It's Not Your Fault!" and "Can Preemie Parents Have PTSD?" When writing these articles I was inspired to add a category to our Blog labeled "Preemie Parent Stories." It is my hope that by reading other parents' stories and struggles you will find that your are not alone. With this thought in mind, I recently spotted an Instagram post by @butterfly.gypzee where she shared her story of becoming a preemie mother. She has graciously given us permission to share her story with you. I know you are going to like it!
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Lately, I’ve felt a strong urge to share more about my story in the NICU and to be a voice for the many others on that treacherous road. I found that during this entire experience my friends, my family, the various stories I would discover on Instagram and the random people I’d find myself walking to in coffee shops — they were the ones that gave me hope. In hearing words of encouragement and other people’s journeys, that is what helped me stay positive and what got me through. Knowing you’re not alone is such a beautiful and powerful feeling. I hope that in sharing my story, I can help others the way I was helped.
The best advice I could give ANY expecting parent is to let go of all expectations. It doesn’t matter how much you study, plan or dream, things happen, and you’re going to have to adjust and go with the flow. AND THAT’S OKAY. Leading up to January 10th, I had a very healthy pregnancy. I ate a plant-based diet, high in protein, fiber, and iron. I drank 4 liters of water a day. I did light yoga and went on light hikes every day. I read to my babe at night and listened to music as much as possible. I was aware of the energy I was putting out and the vibes I was surrounding myself with. At every checkup, our midwives assured us that we were right on track for her due date of March 15th. I felt amazing most days and loved being pregnant. That is why it was such a shock when I went into labor two months early. Fast forward to me going into preterm labor, giving birth within 10 minutes of arriving at the emergency room and my baby girl being ripped from my arms and rushed to the NICU before I knew it. Most mothers get to have skin to skin time, breastfeed right away and spend the night with their babe— something I was so looking forward to. However, it wasn’t in our cards. She was so little. She was unable to breathe on her own or regulate her temperature, let alone have the instinct to know how to nurse. She needed to go. So I kissed her on her little forehead, told her I loved her and said goodbye.
The first two days in the NICU were the longest days of my life. Lights flashing, machines beeping, cords, tubes, bandages, a clear case, and nurses all acting as a barricade between my sweet baby girl and I. I was terrified because there was so much going on and we didn’t know what any of it meant. I couldn’t resist the feeling of helplessness and wonder "why us?" All I wanted to do was to hold my little girl; but, I had to scrub in before doing so, sanitizing anytime I touch something else other than my daughter. And even then, she could only take so much stimulation before it’s back into the incubator that’s regulating her temperature. Add all of that onto the fact that I just gave birth to my first child... you could say I was overwhelmed.
However, all of that aside, there is this beautiful little warrior baby fighting to survive in a world she shouldn’t be in yet. She is so amazing, and I know that as hard as this is on us, it’s nothing compared to what she is going through. With that realization, I pulled myself together and became the rock that my baby needed— her mother. I learned what all of the beeps from the machines meant, how every cord and tube supported her, why she is bandaged, what the clear case is for and who each nurse was. Suddenly, what felt like barriers transform into bridges. They lead us to our baby, supporting us so that we can be her parents in a time she needs us the most. We all work together to help her thrive, and it is a beautiful dance we've begun. Every day we count our blessings because any negative energy will not help our baby progress and come home. So we make this a positive experience. We visit her as much as possible. Enjoying the little parenting moments we get, like changing her diaper, taking her temperature, sharing skin to skin interactions, reading books and singing to her. Giving her all of our love and not just hoping but believing that everything we do will help her progress.
A month and a half passed and before we know it, they tell us that she is ready to come home.
Any road in the NICU is a long road. But I assure you, it’s worth the raw hands and the sleepless nights away from your baby. It’s worth the pain, the heartache, the stress, and the worry! Because it all gets better! There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel and whatever is meant to be will be. To the parent(s) who have embarked on a similar journey as we once lead— I see you. Stay strong. You are not alone. You will get through this.
We would like to hear and share more preemie stories, please send your story @ firstname.lastname@example.org and help us encourage other parents.