Did you know...
- In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely
- Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year
Information from the March of Dimes
I never thought I would have a reason to write about the premature birth of my daughter, but here I am, on the Eve of Prematurity Awareness Day, scrolling through NICU photos and thinking about what an important campaign this is.
My little girl was born on January 28th, 2013, a full two months early. (Her EDD was to be 3/26/13).
Julia's birth story isn't much different than anyone else's, really. With the exception of a room full of (I'd say at least 8) doctors, nurses and other staff members ready to whisk her off to the NICU as soon as she was born, I had a pretty regular delivery... it was just way too early.
I remember having awful heartburn the night before. I wasn't feeling too well and was up on and off throughout the night.
We called the advice nurse after I started to experience some odd bleeding in the morning and against her "advice," drove to the hospital anyway. We arrived around 8AM. Julia was born at 12:05PM.
I didn't get to hold my baby. I didn't get to look into her eyes or hold her little hands or kiss her feet. There was no kangaroo care or Daddy, Mommy + Baby photos. I didn't get a chance to look at her little lips and perfect nose.
I was terrified but I didn't know it. Later on, I was angry, depressed & felt so very alone. It's an odd feeling leaving the hospital without a baby and only being able to touch your little girl through the holes in the incubator.
Unlike other mothers, I did not stay at the NICU. I experienced a range of emotions while Julia was in the hospital for those 3 weeks & I chose to sleep at home. I would get up in the middle of the night to pump for a baby that wasn't there. I drove to and from the hospital with a bag of books, cards & stuffed animals that eventually weren't allowed in her room. We weren't allowed to bring her clothes, either. She wore her diaper and the onesie provided by the NICU.
Each day we watched her progress. Julia's chart (shown in the photos) gave us daily updates and once she passed her "Feeding Checklist," (this one was the most difficult), we were able to bring her home.
We had a little 4 lb. peanut at home for awhile. Not a chunky bundle of baby by any stretch of the imagination, a true little munchkin who has since grown into a very spunky toddler.
There are many reasons mothers experience a premature delivery. There are also many unknowns. Because I don't know why Julia came too early, I can only advocate for more research to be done in the hopes that others do not have to experience premature birth & can bring home full-term babies.
For additional information, I encourage you to visit March of Dimes and/or participate in an upcoming Walk for Babies event in your area. We will be participating in the walk next year in Reston, VA. #borntoosoon