This week’s Mommy Moment comes from my bloggy friend Tara over at 3 P’s in a Pod. Her story is definitely one a lot of moms can relate to. Having a premature baby is a tough situation to deal with. Growing a baby is a lot of work, and then to have them leave you so quickly, before either of you are even ready is a great struggle. The endless worry that mothers of premature babies have to deal with is something Tara took on with great strength and character. I always enjoy Tara’s stories of her son Carter and after reading the whole story about how he was born, it was really touching and makes me really admire her for staying so strong through it all.
I still remember the day I went into labor like it was yesterday. January 11, 2010. I can hear the doctor telling me “You’re 8 centimeters dilated.” I was 29 weeks pregnant.
I had started having signs the night before but decided to go to bed and see what was happening in the morning. On my way to work I had a few braxton hicks contractions and some were accompanied by slight cramping. There were also additional things going on that concerned me so I planned to call the doctor once their office opened. I ended up getting so worried at work that I just left and called the doctor on the way because I worked out of town and the trip would take me about an hour.
Once I arrived at the doctor’s office (located in the hospital) I was monitored for contractions and Carter’s movement. Then I met with the doctor to be checked.
The next fourteen hours were like none that I’ve ever experienced. The goal was just to keep him inside as long as possible, but my doctor wasn’t predicting that to be very long. Carter was born at 2:44 am on January 12, 2010. He weighed 3lb 1oz and was 16 inches long. One of the nurses wheeled the isolette over to me so I could see him and touch his little hand before he was taken away to the NICU.
During the days that I was still in the hospital I don’t think things had really sunk in. Afterall, I didn’t have any close friends or family that had ever been through this, so I pretty much knew nothing about prematurity. But after I was discharged I was a complete mess. We made a trip to Babies R Us and I ended up in tears saying “I’m not pregnant anymore but I don’t have my baby.” It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I wondered if the daily crying episodes would ever end.
My husband, Jake, was a huge support through it all. Sometimes I feel like he never really had the chance to be upset because he had to make sure that I wasn’t, or to help me when I was. He went back to work shortly after Carter was born so that he could use his time off once he came home. I spent all day every day in that hospital room. I lived for the changing and feeding every three hours, and the times that I was able to hold him. Night time was the worst. Usually around the time we planned to head home was when the nurses had shift change. I knew the day nurses pretty well since I was always there. But it seemed like I was always seeing new night nurses and many times I left with extreme anxiety about who would be caring for my son overnight. During the day I could check the tape on his feeding tube, or make sure his cannula was on straight. But who would check on those things overnight? It was tough to handle.
During the course of Carter’s NICU stay Jake and I decided that we wouldn’t be comfortable with Carter going to daycare once I went back to work. Preemies have a very vulnerable immune system and can’t handle sickness like term babies. I did return to work for about a week and a half while he was still in the hospital, but after that I was officially a stay at home mom!
When people say that being in the NICU is a roller coaster, they are not kidding! There were definitely good days and bad days, and a few different setbacks. But I always tried to remember that we were so lucky. Every test that was done came back with normal results and it seemed as though Carter just needed to grow so he could develop the ability to eat and breathe on his own. It felt like forever. Finally, 66 long days later, Carter was released from the NICU and was tube and wire FREE!
Today, Carter is a happy, healthy little man at almost 16 months old. His milestones are pretty close to being on track with his adjusted age. We’ve had some eating issues, but I could write a book about that so I’ll spare you the details. It basically started with acid reflux and projectile vomiting. Then it turned into a complete bottle aversion so I had to feed him in his sleep for several months. He’s definitely improving but is still behind on taking solid foods and drinking from a cup/straw, so we’re still working.
As for me, I did, and still do, go through a lot of sadness and mourning. Mourning the loss of the pregnancy and birth I had envisioned and always thought I’d have. I wanted more time with him inside. I loved being pregnant. I loved just sitting and feeling him kick and move around. I think one of the hardest things to deal with is not knowing why this happened. There’s no explanation. And if Jake and I decide to have more children, a pregnancy will never be normal for me.
When the one year anniversary of everything came around, I couldn’t get it out of my head. And when I drive past or go back to that hospital for something I still think about stopping at the bathroom on my way up to the doctor’s office that day, before finding out I was in labor. I still remember all the mornings I walked in, got on the elevator, and headed up to the NICU. The smell of the hospital tugs at my heart.
I am so thankful to have my little man here with me. Had I waited even five more minutes to leave work that morning and go to the doctor things could’ve turned out completely different. So, amongst the sadness that I sometimes feel, there are so many things to be happy about 🙂