Our bodies are really quite amazing – they know what to do, how to do it, and most of the time do it perfectly.
As a Certified Nurse Midwife, I have this conversation regularly with parents-to-be. As a mom, I know that this is true…except when it isn’t.
My first pregnancy was uneventful. I had some morning sickness but loved being pregnant.
Then I went into labor and my water broke at 34 weeks. I suddenly had become a preemie parent.
We were lucky. She had no breathing or eating issues; she didn’t even have to go to the NICU for observation.
The biggest problem our daughter had was jaundice and she was able to go home on a bili-blanket for phototherapy.
My pregnancy with our second daughter was decidedly more stressful.
We had suffered a miscarriage in between these pregnancies and I had prayed and told God that I didn’t care how sick I felt as long as I had a healthy baby.
The overwhelming nausea finally stopped at around 18 weeks, just as I was having to start weekly progesterone injections.
The thought behind progesterone therapy is that it may help the pregnancy carry further along. These shots are painful and cause rather large knots in your bottom.
I felt as though I lived at appointments…I saw my regular OB and the high risk doctors at Maternal Fetal Medicine.
I started having contractions and bleeding at 25 weeks. Ultimately, I went into labor and my water broke at 34 weeks again. I became a mom to a preemie the second time, but nothing was the same.
The road wasn’t quite as smooth this time. Our daughter couldn’t breathe and was resuscitated at birth by the NICU team.
She was on oxygen, IV fluids, and tube feedings. She had to learn to regulate her body temperature and keep breathing while she ate.
Her stay in the NICU was almost 2 weeks long, but it felt like an eternity.
Her lungs are still a major concern.
Her health influenced our decision to move over 1,000 miles to give her a better chance.
When I became pregnant with our son, we were nervous.
We were so fortunate with our oldest daughter and more than a little traumatized by our second daughter’s birth experience.
The progesterone shots were part of the plan again. Frequent appointments with my OB and Maternal Fetal Medicine filled my schedule.
All seemed to be going well until I began having contractions at 29 weeks. There is a test that can be done when checking for preterm labor.
My results showed that it was likely to happen.
Our son was born at 35 weeks and I was once again a mom to a preemie baby.
He had no breathing or other issues requiring him to go to the NICU.
Like our oldest daughter, he had jaundice. He had to stay in the hospital for 4 days of phototherapy.
5 Things I Learned Being a Mom to 3 Preemie Babies
1. Most Of the Time Pregnancy is Normal and Really Amazing
As scary as having your baby too soon can be, the “normal” moments are so incredibly wonderful.
The awesome wonder of a positive pregnancy test, first flutters, kicks and bonding with your baby are indescribable.
Being a preemie parent doesn’t take that away. Yes, we had challenges but I LOVED my pregnancies with my babies.
Knowing that my body was growing new life was such a miracle. Don’t let the scary moments take away from the wonderful moments.
2. Sometimes You Can Do Everything “Right” And the Unexpected Still Happens
I was a Labor & Delivery nurse and training to be a Certified Nurse Midwife when I had my children.
I knew all of the “right” things to do. I ate well, stayed active, went to all of my appointments, had weekly shots in my bottom, weekly internal ultrasounds to evaluate my cervix and my babies still came early.
The biggest life lesson I took away from my pregnancies was that no matter how much we think we are in control, we are really just along for the ride.
This doesn’t have to be scary. I think it is liberating; because there will be challenges, but we don’t have to let the stress/fear/anxiety build up. Once I let go of the need to control, I had an overwhelming peace.
3. You Are Your Baby’s Biggest Advocate
Mama, you are your baby’s voice.
You are his/her champion. Trust your gut. Stand up for your baby. Ask questions. Get second opinions.
There is no one right answer.
One of the best things we have done for our children is use holistic healthcare in addition to modern Western medicine. We are using raw honey to help with asthma and allergy symptoms.
But, as always, talk with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your healthcare plan.
4. It’s Okay to Cry and Worry, But Don’t Live There
Your hormones are going haywire…especially in those first few days/weeks postpartum!
I am the first to admit that I had a “Mama Bear” moment over an infiltrated IV that the nurses didn’t catch.
I shed so many tears worrying about my babies. But, Mama, you are strong. Shed those tears, then wipe your face, and love on that baby.
5. Let Your Tribe Love You
Whether you are in the hospital for a long stay, staying indoors with a preemie during cold & flu season, or living at doctor appointments, take the help offered your way.
It doesn’t mean you are not able to take care of your family. It doesn’t mean you can’t handle it.
It means there are people who love you and are there for you in your time of need.
A lot of the time, people don’t know what they can do to help. Whenever I was asked what I needed, it was a reflex to say, “Nothing, we are doing okay.”
If I were being honest, I would have asked them to take the older kids to the park OR pick up prescriptions OR just bring me some coffee and sit and talk. It is so important to let your tribe love you while you are loving on those babies.
Over to you – are you a preemie mom? Share your story in the comments!