On October 22, 2014, I gave birth to a 27-weeker preemie, several weeks after Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM).
Josiah weighed 2 pounds at birth. His head was as small as a mandarin orange, his body the size of a sweet potato. His diaper, tiny as a debit card, was folded in half before it was put on.
The experience of a high-risk pregnancy with multiple threatened miscarriages, my son’s emergent C-section birth, and the 3 months he spent in the NICU, to say nothing of his homecoming, was the toughest, most frightening experience of my life.
What does it feel like to give birth to a preemie?
Imagine you come home one day and a masked man ambushes you, holds a gun to yours and your baby’s head for a few terrifying minutes… and then leaves.
You and your baby survive this ordeal, but you are traumatized and grieving the loss of normal.
Just yesterday, I saw a picture online of a friend’s full-term, chubby newborn… and burst into tears.
Having a preemie changed me forever.
Here are the posts I wrote during the experience.
A work in progress, it’s not finished yet. I find it difficult to read through these posts and relive the experience, so I can only work on it a little bit at a time. I promise it will be finished eventually.
27-Weeker Preemie Story
- June 30, 2014 – possible miscarriage at 10 weeks gestation
- July 5, 2014 – baby’s alive and kicking, first ultrasound pic – diagnosis: subchorionic hemorrhage
- July 10, 2014 – I discover that I have placenta previa
- July 14, 2014 – everything looking normal (just hangry and having cravings) at 13 weeks pregnant
- Aug. 13, 2014 – 17 weeks, still experiencing bleeding but baby is growing
- Aug. 27, 2014 – 19 weeks, subchorionic hemorrhage appears healed
- Sept. 9, 2014 – My water breaks due to due to pPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) and I return to the hospital where a neonatologist encourages me to terminate the pregnancy – 21 weeks pregnant. Strict bedrest begins.
- September 12, 2014 – pPROM, 4 days later. Out of the hospital, I begin a supplement protocol
- Sept. 15, 2014 – 22 weeks pregnant – I reach a milestone, still pregnant 1 week after pPROM
- Sept. 19, 2014 – 11 days after pPROM, things get very scarier. “You have no fluid left.” Oligohydramnios. I count down the days until the first steroid shot.
- Sept. 21, 2014 – researching statistics, so many unknowns
- Sept. 29, 2014 – an important milestone! 24 weeks, time for the first life-saving steroid shot
- Oct. 7, 2014 – 25 weeks pregnant, I start buying baby stuff, too afraid to do so before now
- Oct. 14, 2014 – gestational incarceration – at 26 weeks, I check myself into the hospital to stay, beginning the hardest 9 days of my life
- Oct. 20, 2014 – 27 weeks, I tour the NICU.
- Oct. 24, 2014 – I write Josiah Levi’s birth story
- Oct. 24, 2014 – Drowning emotionally, I break down at baby’s bedside
- Oct. 26, 2014 – I am discharged from the hospital. I go home without my baby.
- Oct. 27, 2014 – I hold my baby for the very first time
- Oct. 28, 2014 – Once again, I break down while visiting my son in the NICU
- Oct. 30, 2014 – Nightmares and NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) scares
- Oct. 31, 2014 – I get to see Josiah’s entire face
- Oct. 31, 2014 – Abdominal x-rays look clean, I get to hold you for 90 minutes
- Nov. 3, 2014 – I get into a groove and begin to feel a tiny bit better about our situation
- Nov. 4, 2014 – Every day I write the book – exhaustion and splitting stitches
- Nov. 6, 2014 – In which I am ANGRY. I begin seeing a therapist.
- Nov. 13, 2014 – You’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks.
- Nov. 14, 2014 – The hospital alarms go off and blare in our ears for an hour. This doesn’t help my nerves.
- Nov. 22, 2014 – One month. I’m no longer drowning in fear. He’s going to make it. Josiah’s PICC line is removed! Nightmares. Is the baby a figment of my imagination?
- Nov. 24, 2014 – Feisty. Josiah throws his first tantrum. Mommy is pleased at this news. My baby is a fighter.
- Dec. 7, 2014 – Josiah was once the Fragile Flower. A baby dies in the NICU.
- Dec. 8, 2014 – I am OVER IT. Done. I hate this place. I hate coming here. F-U, NICU!
- Dec. 11, 2014 – Breather. Josiah is off the CPAP. I can see his entire face!
- Dec. 12, 2014 – Nesting. When you think your baby is going to die, you don’t buy stuff. Now it’s time to prepare my nest. I walk into the NICU and Josiah is out of the incubator and into an open crib!
- Dec. 21, 2014 – Two steps forward, one step back – all the things that have to happen before my baby can come home. Every day his eyes plead with me not to leave his side. It’s torture.
- Dec. 30, 2014 – I would have been 37 weeks pregnant today. Instead, I have a 10 week old. A day in the life of a NICU mom.
This is where I get quiet, because the anxiety, shame and depression took over where the fear left off.
- Jan. 19, 2015 – Homecoming. Josiah is home now. He’s on a heart monitor that goes off every few seconds all night long, rendering me a zombie by day. I get a whopping case of mastitis, and after it heals, my milk supply seems to go with it.
…. a work in progress