Preemie Challenge is Important to Us!
During August 2020 we are hosting the Preemie Crochet Challenge so we thought we would tell you a little about why this is so important to us!
Helen’s Preemie Story
My birth plan was sorted and I was set on the hospital that I wanted to go to. Here we had a choice of 3 or 4 hospitals. I decided on the one closest to us because it had a fantastic reputation and was a bit smaller than the main hospital in the city 20 minutes away. We would get our own room and the rules for Richard visiting were more relaxed. The staff were awesome and there were so many options for me during labour.
My pregnancy had been textbook. No issues, no morning sickness at all, lots of energy. A water infection once and baby lying on a nerve which stopped my leg from working properly sometimes was as bad as it got.
The best laid plans ….
Jorja decided she fancied coming to meet us early. My waters broke in the middle of a restaurant as I was going to the ladies. Awesome! Now my mother in law was shouting from the rooftops and trying to deal with the dessert order that had just been made. I wanted to just get out of there and not be turned into a spectacle.
In my head I wanted the relaxed labour where your partner massages you and helps you through the process. The reality was that every nerve in my body repelled his touch. I remember slapping him away and trying to explain that it was verging on painful him even touching me. Richard just felt helpless and I felt just awful about it.
A happy bunny I was not.
Then I was told that unfortunately Jorja was coming too early for us to go to my unit of choice. This scared me. I was handling everything up until that point (including my mother in law desperately trying to be there for the birth) but now I was being told that my baby was going to need specialist care.
Eventually, after hours of being monitored and being told we’ll give it half an hour / an hour and then think about surgery Jorja’s heart rate dropped. Luckily Richard was keeping an eye on it as they had been checking it every few minutes and deliberating in a corner. The midwife had disappeared after I told Richard I didn’t like her because she was telling me off for not using their ruddy gas and air (it made me feel out of control and I DO NOT like that). He left me in the room saying he would just be a minute and went racing for some help.
I was wheeled into that operating room so fast that they literally bounced me off the walls on the way down! I remember looking up as they started moving the bed, seeing Richard looking lost and asking him to ring my mum!
Let me tell you that operating room was scary! Richard and I were not married at the time and so he technically was not allowed to be in there. Thankfully the midwife knew better and got him in just in time. But not before I had four clip boards thrust in front of my face at the same time with things to sign. Oh. My. Word! How I didn’t freak out I do not know. About that time the epidural kicked in and I no longer felt like I was having the worst asthma attack of my life. I merrily signed their papers revelling in the relief that that one magic needle brought me!
When my beautiful baby girl was born I found it difficult to find clothes and nappies to fit her. In fact my mum had to go shopping for them for me because I was in the hospital with her 24/7. She absolutely drowned in newborn clothes. There was only one place that we could get preemie sized nappies and even they were a little too large!
We got off pretty lightly with Jorja. She was born with no sucking reflexes which made trying to feed her difficult. Luckily her lungs, heart etc were fine (she had a small hole in the heart that disappeared within a year or so!) Despite our best efforts Jorja was still loosing weight. I remember sobbing to my husband repeating over and over that she just needed to go home! It was was the only certainty that I had – everything would be ok if we could just go home….
The decision was made to tube feed her. It was the right decision for her but I would have loved more communication about the options from the nurses. I saw mothers and babies being sent to the hospital that I wanted to go to. Why were we not allowed? Eventually my husband went and saw someone and demanded that they talked to me because he could see I was verging on depression because of the lack of communication.
It turned out that we couldn’t go because they had already put the tube down Jorja’s nose and into her stomach. This meant she could not travel, not even in an ambulance. If they had said this before the tube was in we could have taken the 15 minutes journey to the other hospital and had the tube put in there. We would also have had our own room instead of sharing a ward with 5 other new mothers at any one time at the other unit.
Sharing really doesn’t bother me. Unfortunately, there was a mum that came in the day after Jorja was born to have her baby. She had a young daughter and was busy separating from her husband. They would have arguments via mobile phone at 2am. Her baby was not premature and was healthy yet she was constantly buzzing the nurses to change her baby’s nappy, to feed the baby, to bath the baby. Eventually the nurses got fed up and told her to deal with her own baby.
Meanwhile here was me, learning about the tubes, how to do the checks needed on my baby, how to feed her and bath her around the tubes. The nurses kept telling me how great it was that I was doing these things myself. Why wouldn’t I??
The ward also had a photographer that came around and took photos of all of the babies before they went home. Every day the lady would come and see Jorja and comment on her eyes and long full eyelashes. And every day no photo was taken because of the tubes … she wanted her to look perfect for her picture. I understood but to me she was perfect anyway. Eventually we got her photo taken and the photographer made such a fuss of her and took the time to get the perfect shots because we had had to wait so long. I was grateful to her for that.
No place like home
After what felt like a lifetime, Jorja was allowed to come home! We had seen other babies come onto the ward and leave within 24 hours but now it was our turn!! Of course, there were strict conditions and the midwife and health visitors would come daily to make sure that Jorja was putting on weight.
My instincts had been correct. Jorja just needed to come home. As soon as she arrived she settled in, relaxed and started feeding properly. The relief was just enormous. There really is no place like home! Jorja started thriving and continues to do so. We are also lucky that there are no developmental issues from her being premature. She brings so much joy. And yes, her hair grew in eventually 😛
Sara’s Preemie Story
The preemie crochet challenge for me, was that getting pregnant was a miracle in itself. For 17 years Nick and I had tried to have children but there was a mental block keeping me too stressed to conceive. Once I had that figured out, bingo, we got pregnant, and I was 37 years old.
My pregnancy was not so textbook, like Helen’s. I had the WORST morning sickness ever for the first 12 weeks. I lost 50 pounds (yeah, 50) during that time because I literally didn’t eat. I’d wake up and just feel like I was going to die. Water hurt. Crackers hurt. I laid in bed and was just miserable until Nick came home from work. Each day, he would nurse me back with broth. Make me drink it. Then I’d have bread. I continued to take vitamins.
Once I was out of that misery, we joined our local hospital’s new parent classes. I did not grow up around babies as I was the youngest. We had moved to Kansas while I was in High School so I was away from all my cousins who were a lot older than me and having their kids at that time. I had no idea how to put on a diaper lol! So, we went, and we learned all about birthing and taking care of babies and wrapping them up “burrito” style.
All through my second trimester, it was so much better. It was like a party! I was showing very well, I could eat most foods again. Beef was a no-no. But if it was sweet–bring it on! We then found out at 18 weeks that we were having a girl. We were so excited and had a name ready: Paige Wenona.
About half way thru the second trimester, I had this feeling I wasn’t going to make it the entire pregnancy. I had also developed colo-rectal cancer during pregnancy, though we didn’t know that’s what it was. I was starting to feel sick again. Paige was feeling extremely heavy. Kicking my bladder hurt so bad!
I was getting real close to my third trimester and I just knew that I was going to be having a preemie. My anxiety made it so that I really wanted a C-section instead of traditional birthing but you cannot just pick and choose. Yet I was starting to get real worried about how this was going to go down. I could tell something was coming.
I started getting sick to the point of near constant dry heaving and also full on vomit. You see, I had actually had a miscarriage a month before I got pregnant with Paige and the entire time I was carrying Paige, I worried. So the vomiting scared me a lot.
Measuring too Large
During my later doctor visits, Paige was measuring quite large. My doctor couldn’t figure out why. She had set me up the following week for an ultra sound to see what was going on. I had a feeling that was the week she was coming, which would put her exactly a month early.
The morning of the ultra sound, I was having contractions. It was 4am. The appointment was at 10:30am. I woke Nick up (as much as he would actually wake up) and said, “hey, I’m having contractions! What do we do?” His response: “that’s nice” and rolled over back to sleep. I think I stood there and blinked for a bit…
When we finally get to the doctor’s office, my contractions are pretty steady, but no water breakage yet. I told them I thought I was having contractions. My actual doctor was on call that day at the hospital where I would have Paige.
Another doctor in their office came and got me. We did the ultrasound and the whole time, I was having more and more contractions. They saw what was happening and as calmly as they could (without telling me anything, by the way), they said, “Let’s send you to the hospital for monitoring. These contractions have us worried.”
The hospital was just down the street–literally. And thank goodness, too because I was just having more and more contractions and they were more and more intense. Both my parents were with us at the doctor’s office and went with us to the hospital. My dad had asked why they were going, too. My mom told him, “because she’s having that baby today.”
Nick had to push me to the sign in, in a wheel chair. All the while things are getting insanely painful and I’m starting to feel that cold sweat and nausea. I very shakily sign the paperwork (really? right then you need paperwork signed by the woman in pain? REALLY?). I’m starting to cry and shake and I’m scared. Now I know I’m having a preemie today.
We get to the nurse’s station and they give me a gown to put on and point me to a large bathroom next to a little curtained area with a bed in it. They want a urine sample. I just gave one at the doctor’s office! I got nothing left! “That’s ok, just go ahead and get changed into the gown.”
Things Get Crazy
Everyone has wide eyes and worry on their faces. My anxiety is kicking in. Nick is sucking on a giant Coke. I go into the bathroom and proceed to sit and try to get that urine sample. Nothing’s happening. I get up and BOOM. Blood and water EVERYWHERE. My husband said it was like a Quentin Tarrantino movie. Blood everywhere. I pull the cord for the “Sh-t just hit the fan” emergency. The nurse comes running in half a second later–she was right there. I barely got into the gown before all that happened.
My mom was near the bed by the pillow on a chair just waiting for me. Dad was in the waiting room. Nick was in the hall pacing, sucking on that Coke. I’m crying, wailing really. They get me on the bed and the blood and water is just GOING. Non-stop it’s coming out of me. I had zero control.
My doctor, thank goodness was on call there that day, came rushing over and people are all around me trying to stick me with needles, and literally no one is doing anything. My doctor comes up and takes charge. She barks out some orders. The male nurse is trying to get Nick into their largest “daddy gown” and it rips across his broad shoulders.
Nick sees the blood and he turned white. The male nurse grabbed his soda and said, “woah man, take a drink!”
My mom was sobbing, I was sobbing and apologizing for all the blood. I am finally wheeled in to the emergency operating room. We’re getting an emergency C-section, folks.
They pull up the gown, Nick is the far back of the room. I’m panicking. There’s no anxiety pill in the WORLD that will help me right now! Now they’re trying to put a catheter in as I’m awake… I am fighting that and my doctor yells, “QUIT TRYING TO DO THAT, WAIT TIL SHE’S OUT!” They put that paper screen up on my belly, then someone with an ungloved hand touches it. Now they have to tear that off and do it again. Finally, they put me out.
What Nick Saw
Apparently, when they pulled my little preemie out, Nick was there and he could see all my insides…out. He said that was gross. Paige was crying like crazy–she had swallowed a lot of fluid and a lot of blood. When Nick took her and said her name, she stopped crying, looked him in the eyes and was fine.
I woke up and the breast feeding clinic gal was there, getting the first bits out of me. My best friend Krystal is there helping. I don’t even care. They tell me I had a placental abruption.
Paige’s NICU Stay
Paige was in the NICU for around 10 days. My little preemie could not regulate her blood sugar, she had trouble eating, and she was without oxygen for a couple of minutes and the doctors highly concerned because her oxygen levels were very low.
My baby and I almost died.
She developed jaundice during her stay as well. My little preemie had to stay in a little incubator for the entire time, except for the final night. She had a pic-line. Tons of wires coming off of her.
Before Paige could go home, she had to be able to eat food without the help of a machine, her jaundice had to clear up, her blood sugar levels had to hold steady, and her oxygen needed to come up and hold steady.
We went to see her every day from 7am until 9pm when they kicked us out. We cried all the way home each time. 10 days.
Finally, we were set to go home. My little preemie had come through near death to passing with flying colors. She even gave the hospital a little salute (no really, she did that) on her way out!
Like Helen, I kept thinking, “if we could just get her home, then things will improve. I just want to take her home!” I pleaded with the doctors of the NICU to help us get her home sooner.
Once we got her home though… there went the idea of any kind of sleep…. ever.
Paige is still a little small for her age, but she’s not too far off of the “national average” here in America.