"Beep, Beep, Beep" "Swish, Swish, Swish" the first sounds that you here as you walk into the NICU for the first time. As You walk in you are met with a sink where you have to properly wash your hands before entering to see your infant. There are posters along the sink to remind you of how to clean them the right way. As you walk in you see some nurses examining babies, monitors beeping, and other nurses inputting information into their computers. You are not bothered by how hectic it is in the room because all you are searching for is your child name or familiar cry that you was only able to hear for a few minutes before he was rushed away.
I have had 3 children in the last five years and all of them was premature infants. At the age of 21 I was in college in Louisiana and planning to become an ob/gyn. That was short lived after I became pregnant with my son during my last year in school. I had lost 25-30 pounds with all of my pregnancies due to non stop vomiting and nausea. Can you imagine living for 8 months without being able to eat or drink anything including water or you was doomed for the trash can? With my first child I had to move home to California at 32 weeks pregnant because I was considered High Risk. I had started to go into preterm labor at 28 weeks and the doctors was not sure why but knew that every day counted. I had him 2 weeks after returning home at exactly 34 weeks gestation.
I was scared and nervous during those first few weeks watching him smile in the incubator with tiny monitors attached to him to make sure he remained stable. I was at his side 22 hours of every day until he was able to come home. Only time I left the hospital was during 7-8 am and pm when the nurses changed shift. How could I go home and relax when I had my first child in the hospital still?
Years later I became pregnant with my husband and I first daughter. It has been 3 years since I was pregnant and I felt that this pregnancy might be different. This time it was completely worse. I lost 30 pounds, no medication either FDA approved or not didn't work for my nausea and the doctors tried everything. I was hospitalized for my vomiting constantly and had preterm labor once again. My middle child was born at 34 weeks and 2 days gestation.
With her Nicu stay it was easier but still heartbreaking to watch your baby suffer. She had mini ALTE episodes where her heartbeats would become irregular and cause her to gasp for air. This was the scariest part to me because every breath I closely monitored. Even though she is 2 now and haven't had an episode since she was 8 months old I am still cautious over her and her irregular heartbeats.
My last child who is now nine months old brought joy to my life. I did lose 30 pounds with her, constant vomiting, in and out of the hospitals, but most importantly she showed me strength. My water bag started leaking at 26 weeks pregnant. I was hospitalized for 4 weeks and I discharged myself and came home until I delivered at 36 weeks. She was the longest one I held in and my water had been leaking for 10 weeks now but somehow the fluid never got low around her.
You are not alone, I have been "let go" by doctors because I was too sick for them and they couldn't find a resolution. I know the feeling of being alone and that nobody understands where you are coming from when you say, "yes, I had my baby. I might be fine physically now but emotionally I am far worse". I know tons of mothers who would trade being pregnant for a few more weeks than to watch their child in a incubator waiting for the doctor to release your precious baby home.
You are strong. You are powerful. I know that you will never be the same after you leave the NICU but take your experiences and turn it into something positive. I know you are frustrated and overwhelmed with emotions. It is ok to feel alone but don't be afraid to ask for help. I know in minority communities seeking help for PTSD or PPD is looked upon as a mental illness and shamed against. We need to break the pattern. Let's Heal our mother's and not frown upon them. Next time you see a new mom ask her exactly how she is feeling and let her express herself openly. If you know someone who just had a premature infant offer all the support you can and never forget to ask how are they doing".
"Your preemie will grow up, but you will always be a preemie mom"
Founder Glo Preemies
"A Voice for Preemie Mom's"