The world of preemies and NICU families contains such variety, and sometimes it’s hard for us to see how similar we all are, because we arrived at this place in such different ways.
My son was born via emergency c-section at 29 weeks and 2 days, and we’re not 100% why he came early (though we have suspicions).
I don’t fully comprehend preeclampsia, HELLP symdrome, PPROM, mulitple babies, micro preemies, tracheotomies; the list goes on. I can’t write on any of those topics, or a slew of others, from personal experience, because I have none.
Some of my warrior tribe (you!) do though, and I now have my first guest author blog!
Please help me in thanking Kristen for sharing with all of us. Below is the story of how she became a Preemie/NICU mom.
I had been diagnosed with hypertension when I was in my 20s. (Thank you, genetics). I was on and off meds for a few years and for at least a whole year before I got pregnant, my blood pressure was measuring fine, and I had not been on any medication.
I got married in 2011, and we were finally ready to start a family in 2014. We found out my due date was smack dab on Valentine’s Day, 2015!
I was hesitant to tell family (even my parents) until 12 weeks, but my doctor said we could (I was almost 7 weeks) in case of any complications. At that point – I knew “complications” could probably only mean miscarriage – preeclampsia had not even entered my mind.
So we went on and surprised both of our parents with the news, each in a special way, and caught their reactions on video.
I went to all of my prenatal appointments and did all of the tests my doctor ordered along the way. I asked my doctor how “big” I would get because I was going to be in a wedding at 20-weeks. She told me I would gain the average 20-30 pounds (I think?). All along though, I knew my belly was still kind of small. I only gained about 15 – maybe 20 pounds. By about the 31st week, they couldn’t get a good measurement of baby. I was sent to Maternal Fetal Medicine for an ultrasound where they discovered IUGR. My BP was also starting to climb. I had exhibited no physical symptoms/pain/signs. If I wasn’t being monitored, this could have gotten out of hand and killed both me and my baby.
At 31 weeks, 6 days, I was admitted to the hospital for overnight observation/24-hour urine analysis, and “luckily” was able to go back home on BP meds. Now, seeing a high-risk doctor in addition to my regular OB, I thought my blood pressure would be under control until at least 37 weeks (our goal)…but our goal was shattered.
At the next appointment at 33 weeks, 6 days, the high-risk doctor told me to go straight to the hospital. Again, I was admitted – went through the whole 24-hour urine analysis, BP checks every hour, and no food after midnight (I ate a blueberry pop tart at 11PM! Cravings!) thing. Unfortunately, I had to stay by myself (except for a roommate), and I could hardly sleep. I knew despite trying to “will” my BP down, it was inevitable. I was going to be a mother to a premature baby in a few hours. I was terrified to say the least.
In the back of my mind I always thought I would have a C-Section – but not because of preeclampsia. But that is how I delivered my premature, 3lb., 4oz., beautiful, baby girl – 6 weeks ahead of her due date – right after the New Year. My last pregnant picture was on New Year’s Eve boasting a chalkboard that read – “we’re having a baby this year!” Had no idea it would be 3 days later.
People constantly say how she just wanted to come into the world early. I knew that wasn’t the truth.
“It was my fault.”
Because of preeclampsia I suffered the loss of 6 whole weeks of pregnancy (& I know some people who have the “usual” discomforts would love that & say I’m lucky – but I wasn’t lucky). Because of preeclampsia the details of the later parts of my pregnancy are a blur and were not enjoyable. Because of preeclampsia I blamed myself for putting our first born in danger. Because of preeclampsia we had a 24-day NICU journey resulting in PTSD. Because of preeclampsia we suffered financially. Because of preeclampsia, I cried every.single.day.
But because of preeclampsia and the awareness my doctors had, we survived. Awareness saved our lives. Surviving this is how I am able to write this today. “Little Miss Peanut” and I are survivors. Because of preeclampsia I am now trying to help raise awareness of this devastating condition so everyone can survive – moms and babies – any woman – any pregnancy.
It’s taken me just under 4 years to wrap my head around this stressful, nerve-racking, and for lack of better words, just plain old scary birth experience, to try again. As I type this, I’m just over 16 weeks pregnant with our second child. I’ve been seeing a therapist for the PTSD/preparedness I need to take this new pregnancy on in a better light than I’ve been imagining ever since the first time. I’ve never bee so paranoid in my life as to something going wrong at every step of the way. My husband has been, and continues to be, my rock (cliché as it may be), to get me through this pregnancy. He keeps reminding me
that the doctors – all four (4) different doctors – know my situation, I’m considered high risk, and we know all the signs and symptoms to look out for this time around. We are praying we don’t have another preemie or NICU/Special Care Nursery stay because we are so ahead of any possible complications, but we’ll be as prepared as we can be. And, after all, that “NICU life” is all we know from having a baby.
I’m most concerned about what happens with our now 4-year-old once this new baby is born – especially if there is another hospital stay. We’re going to need some babysitters, but I’m not sure how we will shuffle her around yet. She will be about 4.5 by then, but I’m not sure if the unit will let her visit or not – but I’m hoping since she’s been there herself, she’s definitely had all of her vaccines, and in the summer time, she should be healthy, as opposed to cold/flu season. Our parents are definitely around to help, but, sometimes, as many know, they can be overbearing. I’m most afraid of that part. We want to handle these situations ourselves as much as possible to lead a more “normal” birth experience. I guess it’s a control thing? I hate the eye rolling and “get over it” attitude that gets shed upon us with things. Things – MANY things – have changed since we were babies – and they need to realize they need to abide by our rules. This is OUR family. And I really don’t want to hear anything about the name we might choose. This is why we’re not finding out the gender again either. I don’t want people putting names on this child before he/she is even here. Although our daughter has nicknamed her “Silly,” she’s convinced she’s a girl! I’m hoping it is again too, but we won’t know until baby’s here!
As of right now, I can’t end this story, except with the following:
Due dates (7.7.19!) are more of an ideal when you’re considered high risk;Kristen Brockman
Instead, we make goals (39 weeks) and pray there’s no twist;
Trying to defeat preeclampsia this time;
We know each and every sign.
But if we need the Special Care Unit again,
For this new little one to grow and mend, We know we’ll be in good hands,
And stand a great chance.
“Little Miss Peanut” is excited to be a big sister,
We won’t know if baby will be like her or a mighty little mister.
We’re praying for the best possible outcome,
Taking each day one by one!
If you would like to share a story from your experience to try and help other Preemie/NICU families cope, learn, and know they’re not alone, please email me at:
I am always accepting submissions!
I would love to read your birth stories, any complications you went through, how you juggled having multiples in the NICU, how you balanced having a family at home with having a baby in the NICU, or absolutely any story relating to preemie/NICU life.
I would also absolutely love to hear from preemie/NICU dads! I feel like fathers need just as much support as mothers, and their experiences are so much different than ours.
So please, feel free to email me! If you’d like to remain anonymous, I can absolutely do that! If you’d like me to link back to your blog or social media, I can do that as well.
Let’s grow our tribe, and spread awareness to help other families make it through this roller coaster!