November 17, 2009

From Preemie to Mommy of Preemies


Today hundreds of bloggers are writing posts about premature births. Every year 20 million babies are born too soon. Medical advances are giving these babies a fighting chance, but for many of them, prematurity is still a life or death situation. Last week, to promote today's event, I shared some of my story involving the premature births of my four daughters. Today, I'm taking a slightly different angle.
I was born premature. I was approximately four weeks early. I've been told I spent time in an isolette so my lungs could develop properly. I've never had any developmental complications from being premature, so it never really hit me how serious being born early can be.... until I became a mommy of preemies.
When I learned I was pregnant with quadruplets I was immediately informed that I would give birth early. How early? There was no way to tell. The longer my babies could stay in the womb, the better. With a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy (save for 23 weeks of bed rest), a c-section was scheduled for 32 weeks. Then at 28 weeks and 2 days, at around 4 a.m., my water broke. I was in disbelief. It was way too early!
Twenty-eight weeks was a magic number. It was how far along I had to be to deliver my babies at my local hospital, rather than be immediately transferred to a hospital 2 1/2 hours away that had pediatric specialists.
My tour of the NICU did not prepare me for what would happen. It's not easy seeing someone else's baby connected to monitors with oxygen tubes up her nose. It's even harder when this fragile child is your own. It took 24 hours before I could hold one of my daughters. I was able to hold Tortilla on a pillow for about two minutes while her bedding was changed... then it was right back to the safety of her isolette. It would be weeks before we could hold any of our daughters for more than a few minutes.
The other day I dug out some NICU pictures for my daughters to see. I could see in their eyes how troubled they were to look at pictures of tiny babies with tubes coming out of their noses, etc. Then I had to explain to them that they were the babies in the pictures. We spent some time talking about how tiny they were and all the special care they needed. It's a lot for a 4-year-old to grasp.
We have since moved from the area where we lived when my daughters were born. It is my hope that one day we can visit so my daughters can see that area... and so we can show the NICU staff how well these girls have thrived, partly due to the care they received when they were first born.
To learn more about prematurity and what you can do to help, visit the March of Dimes.

11 comments:

maryanne said...

A beautiful post, and I'm so glad that your story has such a happy ending.

Quadmama said...

Thanks Maryanne. Sometimes it's pretty stunning to see how far they've come.

Stephanie B said...

It's a topic that tears at the heart, even if I've never dealt personally. I'm so glad we live now and not a hundred years ago.

MoDLin said...

My husband was born 8 weeks early in 1943. He was told they fed him with an eye dropper. It's absolutely amazing how well he has done, considering all the things that so easily could have happened. You're right - no one is ever prepared for this. Even we didn't truly "get it" until our grandson was born early and was in the NICU for 3 weeks. I'm glad your girls are doing well. So is our preemie, now a bright and spunky 10 year old! Thanks for spreaing the word to fight for preemies today - and every day.

Quadmama said...

The medical advances that benefited our daughters were amazing.

LauraC said...

I never thought about explaining everything to Nate and Alex! My post is coming tomorrow.

Quadmama said...

I was vague in a lot of what I said. They aren't old enough to fully understand and I didn't want to scare them. But we do look at pictures and they're starting to ask why they have tubes, etc. in the pics.

Brooke said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Quadmama. I'll be sure to post about Curly's NICU experience today! He wasn't premature - in fact, at 9 lbs 3 oz, he was the giant of the NICU and they had to find clothes and diapers for him on different floors. But we found the NICU to be a truly amazing place with some of the greatest people in the world. We visited at Curly's six-month and one-year bithdays - and we asked for hospital donations in lieu of birthday gifts. NICUs will always be close to my heart.

Quadmama said...

Yep, a 9 pounder would be considered pretty big in the NICU... but I'm glad you brought up this point. The NICU may see a lot of preemies but that's not the only patients they treat. Glad Curly is doing well and that you've done what you can to help your NICU.

Angela said...

This reminds me that I need to visit our NICU again as well. Our trips were born at 33.3wks and were in 2 different NICU's. The nurses there were so amazing and really put me at ease enough to leave, get some sleep/rest, and they emphasized my health during that time. I'm glad I found your blog! I can't help but get choked up at what miracles us "multiple" moms have!

Quadmama said...

I really wish we lived closer to our NICU, but I make sure I send pictures every year.

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