World Prematurity day – My story: Lots of babies are born prematurely for all sorts of reasons and it can be a tough and scary ride having your baby early.
Small premature babies are very common in my side of the family so although I kind of expected my babies to be a little early I still 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 and began to have what I thought were braxton hicks as I had awful braxton hicks over the last few months. When I went back to my room I had a very strong ‘braxton hick’ and a midwife came to check on me and hooked me up to the monitor.
After a while the midwife came back, checked the results and ran off, quickly returning with a Dr who checked me over and told me I was in fact in early labour and I was 3cm dialated. As I had an infection I was advised an emergency c-section would be best to prevent passing on the infection to a premature baby who may not be able to fight it off.
I was terrified. I was only 19 but I knew I had to take the safest and best option to bring my baby into this world.
I was told I’d be taken down around 6/7pm but my labour was progressing rapidly and 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 and as he was still getting himself changed and ready to enter the operating theatre when I had the spinal done I was in tears. Having a needle phobia that was the worst part for me at the time and 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 but 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.
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 which made me think my baby may not be as healthy as I had hoped.
When I was shown my tiny 4lb 14oz baby breathing fine and appearing very healthy apart from a touch of jaundice I knew I was extremely lucky that things had gone as well as they had. We didn’t know the sex of our baby as they had their legs crossed during scans, so 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 and 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 and was trying to think what suited her best when 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 as we had been unprepared. I remember staring at our beautiful little miracle the whole time he was gone and being amazed she had made it through this far. We were taken back up to the ward where a few people arrived to congratulate us and see our little girl.
The Mr returned with the newborn clothes and they were all huge on her making her look even tinier especially with the Mr dressing her.
After everyone had left the nurses came round to check on us both and make sure I could get up and walk but 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.
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 panicking something was about to go very wrong and 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 and 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.
After about an hour of talking we headed back to my room and after a little while some nurses appeared with Eva telling me the previous results were wrong and although Eva did have jaundice she should be ok after a bit of phototherapy and 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 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 with Eva spending most of her time ‘sunbathing’ whilst myself and my Mr could only watch and try to comfort her as best as we could whilst we tried to make sure she got enough milk to begin gaining weight instead of losing.
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 and was still showing signs of jaundice so we were admitted to the pediatrics ward so Eva could continue light therapy. Luckily by the next evening Eva was recovering well from jaundice and 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, witnessing babies gaining their wings at the young 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 would never guess was a preemie. She has slight problems with her fine motor skills which we are working on and she does struggle to stay focused but she is otherwise very healthy and keeping up with her peers.
Many babies are born early and have all sorts of complications and 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 and some are lucky enough to make it through with few complications but 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 and 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 and make sure they have a shoulder to cry on and an ear to offload too if needed as it can be a very difficult and lonely time.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my premature baby on world prematurity day and 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!