For World Prematurity day, I’m sharing my story. Lots of babies are born prematurely for all sorts of reasons. It can be a long, tough and scary ride having your baby early.
World Prematurity Day
Small premature babies are very common in my side of the family. Because of this, I kind of expected my babies to be a little early, by a week or two maybe. I definitely wasn’t ready when my oldest daughter Eva was born prematurely at 4 weeks and 1 day early.
I was in hospital already with an infection alongside a friend I had at the time. This friend went into labour so we met outside to take her mind off it. Whilest we were outside, I began to have what I thought were braxton hicks. I had awful braxton hicks over the last few months of my pregnancy and it semed no different. When I went back to my room I had a very strong ‘braxton hick’ and a midwife came to check me. I was left hooked up to the monitor for a while.
After a while the midwife came back, checked the results and ran off again. She quickly returned with a Dr who checked me over and told me I was in fact in early labour. I was already 3cm dialated. As I had an infection, I was advised an emergency c-section would be best. This was to prevent passing on the infection to a premature baby who may not be able to fight it off.
Emergency C-Section At 35+6 Weeks
I was terrified at the news. Whilst I was only 19, I knew I had to take the safest and best option to bring my baby into this world. I signed the forms and tried my best to fight the panic.
At first, I was told I’d be taken down around 6/7pm that evening. Due to my labour progressing rapidl, by 4pm, I was down in theatre having my spinal. The Mr had to rush back from town when I told him the c-section was going to happen sooner. He was still getting himself changed and ready to enter the operating theatre when I had the spinal done. Feeling scared, I was in tears. Having a needle phobia, that was the worst part for me at the time. Not having the Mr there to hold my hand had me in a state.
Im not going to lie, throughout the procedure I cried at my Mr telling him I was so scared. I didn’t feel much though and after what felt like someone pushing down on my rib cage, I suddenly heard a small cry. That had me sobbing for a whole different reason! It’s not always this easy for others but it is still terrifying.
When you go into early labour your head goes into overdrive thinking about all the ‘What if’s’. Hearing that tiny cry brought relief knowing my baby had made it into this world alive. Having previously miscarried with my first pregnancy at 18 my biggest fear was that my baby wouldn’t survive.
I had a very rough pregnancy being sick constantly. Suffering from anemia and continuously having water infections, made me think my baby may not be as healthy as I had hoped.
A Touch Of Luck
When I was shown my tiny 4lb 14oz baby breathing fine and appearing very healthy, I knew I was extremely lucky. She did have a touch of jaundice though. We didn’t know the sex of our baby as they had their legs crossed during scans. I was anxious to find out and when the staff congratulated us on the birth of our beautiful little girl, I broke down again.
I remember being wheeled into the recovery room after being stitched up twice where I had split open again rolling over. Finally, being given my tiny baby to hold in my arms at last. It was one of the most emotional and amazing moments of my life. I had all these names in my head, trying to think what suited her best. The Mr suggested his mum’s middle name which had been passed on through the women in his family. We agreed to call her Eva-Raye, somehow it just suited her straight away.
I fed her and kept her warm inside my hospital gown while the Mr headed home to bring in some clothes for us. Being so early, we had been unprepared. I remember staring at our beautiful little miracle the whole time he was gone. I was amazed she had made it through this far. We were taken back up to the ward eventualy.
Life With a Preemie
The Mr returned with the newborn clothes. They were all huge on her making her look even tinier especially with the Mr dressing her. She just looked so small and fragile.
After everyone had left, the nurses came round to check on us both. Needing to make sure I could get up and walk and check Eva’s blood test results. There was a bit of panic over Eva’s blood test results and the fact she had dropped from her birth weight of 4lb 14oz down to 4lb 4oz. She was rushed down to NICU for more testing.
Honestly I freaked. My baby brother had been born very early 9 days before my 5th birthday and had spent months in NICU. Walking back through those doors brought back all the memories and I begun to freak out. I couldn’t stop panicking something was about to go very wrong. It was so hard, panicking that after everything I may still lose my precious baby.
I handed over some bottles of milk I had pumped and left Eva to be tested. Then I went outside with the Mr where I broke down. The Mr was amazingly strong throughout all of this, even though I know it was hard and terrifying for him too. It’s just as hard for men to deal with.
After about an hour of talking we headed back to my room and after a little while some nurses appeared with Eva. She began telling me the previous results were wrong and although Eva did have jaundice, she should be ok after a bit of phototherapy. Next, they wheeled in all the equipment for it and showed me how it worked.
Eva was given a biliband to cover her eyes and we settled her in the crib under the light to begin treatment. I was only allowed to pick up my baby and cuddle her once every 2 hours whilst I fed her. Then I had to put her back under the light.
Unfortunately, even with all the complications we had, the staff forgot about us and we ended up staying in for 5 days. Eva spent most of her time ‘sunbathing’, whilst myself and my Mr could only watch and try to comfort her as best as we could. Trying to make sure she got enough milk to begin gaining weight, instead of losing it.
Finally Going Home
We were eventually allowed home on the 5th day and we were beyoned relieved our tiny baby girl had made it home at last. 2 days later Eva still hadn’t gained weight though and still showing signs of jaundice. We were admitted to the pediatrics ward so Eva could continue light therapy. Luckily, by the next evening, Eva was recovering well from jaundice. Once again we were allowed home.
Our tiny baby girl was a strong little fighter and didnt let prematurity get the better of her. Seeing my brother go in an incubator in NICU for months as a child and seeing the other babies on the ward added to my worries. Witnessing babies gaining their wings at the age of 5, I am well aware we are ridiculously lucky Eva only had jaundice and recovered so quickly.
At the age of 5 she is a clever, funny, crazy little girl who you wouldn’t guess was a preemie. She has slight problems with her fine motor skills which we are working on. Often she does struggle to stay focused, but she is otherwise very healthy and keeping up with her peers.
World Prematurity Day – Raising Awareness
Many babies are born early and have all sorts of complications. It’s a very tough time for those tiny babies and their families. Some babies dont make it, others take a very long time to recover. Some are lucky enough to make it through with few complications. Every family with a premature baby needs as much love and support as they can get to make it through such a tough time.
Please remember if you are going through a rough time after having a premature baby, it is not your fault your baby arrived earlier than planned. I know I blamed myself for quite some time but I have since realised nothing could have been prevented. I did everything I could to ensure my baby arrived as safely as possible.
If you know someone who has had a premature baby, take a few minutes out of your day to check in on them. Make sure they have a shoulder to cry on and an ear to offload to if needed. It can be a very difficult and lonely time for new parents.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my premature baby on world prematurity day. Please feel free to share your own links and stories in the comments. Apologies for the poor photo’s, camera quality on phones weren’t as good back in 2010!