Was this a planned pregnancy?
Yes we were lucky enough to fall pregnant the month we decided to start trying, much to our surprise! Considering I was 38 we were both beyond grateful it had happened immediately and spontaneously.
Describe your pregnancy?
Up until 27 weeks I had the most perfect pregnancy. Hardly any morning sickness, no bloat, no pigmentation and hardly any weight gain! The best thing about being pregnant I found was how even tempered I was with no PMS!! It was all too good to be true really …. And sadly that ended up being the case as our beautiful little baby girl was born at 30 weeks.
Were there any warning signs re preterm labor?
I presented with some bleeding at 27 weeks and was admitted for observation. It was the first of three times over three weeks I was in hospital and to this day the bleeding itself remains unexplained. I had no signs of any condition that should have resulted in or caused bleeding which in a way was as frustrating as it was scary as I would’ve preferred something conclusive happening to possibly treat and stop in its tracks. The bleeding itself became so stressful that I developed a phobia of going to the toilet in case there would be new blood, the anxiety no doubt made the whole situation worse. At 30 weeks on a very stormy Cape Town day I started having unfamiliar cramps and phoned the labour ward again. Driving myself to the hospital in the pouring rain I had no incline that I was going to be a mom 4 hours later!
Describe your first thoughts when you found out you were going to deliver early?
Terror ,fear and perhaps denial. I was praying so hard that my Dr had made a mistake and we could somehow stop the labour but as I was wheeled back into the labour ward, prepped and introduced to the anaesthetist I knew with a sinking heart my angel was on her way. What an abnormal feeling to be so excited about meeting your baby whilst simultaneously praying it wasn’t happening.
How were you prepared by your Gynae? Hospital staff? Neonatologist?
As my Gynae sat up in her chair after my final examination and uttered the most dreaded but not entirely unexpected words, I burst into tears and my world stopped for a few minutes in the hope of my brain being able to make sense of what was happening and minimize the fear. All the staff were fantastic, supportive and made me feel like my baby was in the best hands possible which is what all parents who are thrown into the unknown like that can hope for.
Describe the first few days post birth for you, your partner and baby?
To be honest I can hardly recall the first day and a half due to the medication they put me on , you are so elated and full of adrenaline and concern that if I look back now I can hardly recall any conversations I had with anyone in that time. Not ideal at all but nothing different could have been the case as I had had an emergency Caesar and needed the requisite drugs.
What were some of the low moments?
Not being able to see my baby till the following day. She was delivered and taken to NICU immediately which was heart wrenching for me but my husband was with her and stayed there till he was allowed. I had to make do with photographs till I could see her. Another low moment was when I arrived at NICU and she was back under the Jaundice lights. I have no idea why it affected me so but I burst into tears upon seeing her even though it was a very minor setback. Otherwise there were no low points, just having her be there growing stronger and stronger every day was a miracle in itself.
What were the high moments?
Every day was a high point! The day she opened her eyes and I was greeted by these little black peepers took my breath away, the first time I touched her hand, kangaroo cared, kissed her, sang to her, held her . Every moment was pure elation and mind blowing that the little micro prem was so strong and eager to be part of this world.
Give a brief description of your overall NICU experience?
A blessing in disguise. We were there for 50 days in total which is a lifetime not having your baby with you, but at the same time, the universe mercifully makes the time pass so swiftly that it felt like a couple of weeks . Invaluable advice, information, general guidelines on everything from all the doctors and nurses were priceless to me and I felt a lot more secure taking her home when she was ready.
Give us a brief description of the first few days after discharge?
I felt like I had done a long haul flight and had very aggressive jet lag! I don’t think I slept a wink the first week, but slowly you get into a rhythm and find your baby groove and life start to resemble its old self again. Who am I kidding, life’s never going to be the same and I love that!!
Describe your life with your growing baby now?
Obviously different as your focus shifts completely. Finding out what kind of mom jig you are going to dance to takes a bit of time but once you do your life acclimatizes to a degree. Priorities change which I have found to be the best thing, the other stuff, the all-consuming stuff that I used to think made life full, one realizes is pointless and not needed at all to feel fulfilled.
What advice and words of encouragement would you give to a parent of a premature infant?
If you’ve never believed in miracles, now is the time to start. The road which feels never ending and relentless, is paved in blessings so be open to them. Be patient, look after yourself and don’t ever stop believing that your little miracle knows your every loving touch, word and thought. So make them constantly positive! I was truly humbled by the strength of the human spirit the NICU babies have as it’s at times unimaginable that the little fighters will ever leave …. But they do and leave as some of the bravest beings that exist in this world.
Lauren Roderick – Graduated NICU Mom x