When I found out I was pregnant with quadruplets, my life became defined by numbers.... weeks to be exact. I knew I would be delivering my babies early... but how early was the question.
Twenty-eight weeks and two days. Those two days are important. It's two days longer that my daughters had time to grow before coming into the world. Rarely will you meet a parent of preemies who doesn't talk about the birth in terms of weeks and days. Some of them can tell you the hours involved, too.
To see pictures of preemies is deceiving. Pictures did not capture the terror of having four babies weighing between 1 1/2 pounds and 2 pounds 4 ounces. In pictures my daughters looked delicate, but not that small. To give people an idea of the challenges we faced, Hubby sent this picture to friends and family:
That is a picture of Cakes' foot and Hubby's wedding band. He has average sized hands. (The blue tint is because all the girls were under Bilirubin lights for jaundice.) After seeing that picture people finally understood our fears.
With preemies, everything becomes a milestone... the first time you can hold your baby (it was about two weeks before we got to do more than transfer them from their isolette to the scale), the first time she poops, the first time she opens her eyes. I have pages upon pages documenting each of these "firsts," and plenty of pictures to go with them.
I consider us very blessed in our lack of "preemie problems." Sue Sue was born with an open heart ductus, but it closed without surgery. Each of the girls had Retinopathy of Prematurity, but, again, no need for surgery. Sue Sue had feeding issues and was eventually transferred to a children's hospital 2 1/2 hours away from us (an excrutiating and exhausting week, I might add). She finally came home with a feeding tube, which lasted for about a week. On Christmas Day she pulled the tube out, so, out of frustration, I gave her a bottle. which she drained. No more feeding issues!
Even now, at age 4, the issue of prematurity still comes up. For instance, next year my daughters miss the kindergarten cut-off by three days. So many parents have rolled their eyes and told me to appeal and start them in kindergarten. Yet, if they had been born "on time" (December) this wouldn't be an issue. At this point, I'm leaning toward another year of preschool. I would rather have four smart cookies who enjoy school than four girls struggling through school because I pushed them to start early, even if it's just a matter of days.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. On Nov. 17, bloggers will unite to raise awareness about the crisis of premature births. I know why my daughters were born early, but I am forever thankful for the advances made by the March of Dimes and other organizations which have helped my daughters grow and thrive. If you want to share your own story or get involved in the effort to raise awarness, you can visit Bloggers Unite.
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