From Pregnant to Preemie

I only wish someone told me sooner the fear you feel when you go into labour. I wish someone sat me down and told me about the emotions you experience as apposed to the physical pain you go through. I wish someone explained to me that you can't guarantee your child's safety or well health no matter what you do. But then I suppose no one expects all this happen to someone at 26 weeks of pregnancy.

Expected or not that is what happened to me. I wont go into the gory details of blood, tears and anxiety that came with our journey into parenthood but I will sum up our experience in 4 simple letters: H E L L.

Now I know some of you will be thinking my experience was the worst ever and that we are incredible to have made it out the other side with just a few emotional scars remaining, but that's not the case. Others will be thinking that their own story is by far worse and more heartbreaking than ours and that we have no right to be left traumatized and bitter, but that's also not fair to say. Truth is, no ones can judge your story, even if you lived life as a preemie parent, or the parent of a sick baby you can't compare how you coped and felt to someone else. No one can prepare you, ease your pain or answer your 'why me?'s. No one can even begin to explain what you'll go through, whether they're an experienced baby doctor, a previous neonatal parent or the nurses looking after your child. No one can justify what happened or why the universe picked you. They just follow you and hear your story and pray you all make it through.

I have perfected my 'story' of the arrival of Aria, as any NICU parent has. The countless times I have reeled it off to doctors, student doctors, nurses, other mums and dads, family, friends and even ITV news and the radio, have caused me to create a script in my head when I begin to explain what happened. Briefly: I was admitted to hospital at 26+1 weeks of pregnancy, was monitored for a week when they realized the situation was not getting better, in fact it was worsening and they had to transfer me to a different hospital, 20 miles away. They'd given me 2 courses of steroid injections for her lung strength, gave me a concentrated dose of magnesium sulfate (which is the worst thing ever) and hooked me up to a magnesium infusion. After 1 day in the transfer hospital, the labour pains started. I coped with them, made it through the agony until they couldn't find a good trace of Aria's heartbeat. I had lost about a litre and a half of blood and had 5 cannulas with different fluids, antibiotics, and magnesium sulfate (again). They made the call to perform an emergency cesarean section to get her here safely. During the C-Section I lost a further litre of blood, required 3 blood transfusions and all the other blah that comes with emergency surgery like injections to prevent clotting etc. But Finally, at 27+3 weeks of pregnancy, on 7.9.2016, at 7.27am, weighing 2lb 2oz my beautiful Aria Grace was born.

We were transferred back to our booking hospital after 8 days. After 9 days we were allowed to hold our daughter for the first time. Aria had spent 14 days in Intensive Care, 25 days in High Dependency and 43 days in Special Care before we eventually came home. She was vented for 4 days and put on CPAP for a total of 31 days. She was administered different drugs and had numerous blood tests, x-rays, head scans, eye tests, and 7 blood transfusions during her hospital journey. She suffered a collapsed lung, infections, anemia, jaundice, respiratory distress syndrome, chronic lung disease and a heart murmur.

My little girl is more than numbers and statistics, she is a fighter. She is the strongest thing I've ever laid my eyes on and I can't believe what she's accomplished in 88 days of life. Her will to survive is incredible and admirable.

I wrote this post about her, her story, not what it has done to me because it isn't about me. I survived through this because I had to for her. This post, all be it hard hitting and blunt, is important. No one speaks about premature babies. No one tells you it can happen out of the blue and it can happen to you. No one writes down the days, the time spent in those hospitals. No one depicts the roller coaster you are on the entire time. You literally feel every emotion possible; happy, proud, amazed when they do well, anxious, depressed, worried, when they have set backs, hurt, betrayed, alone, traumatized. Everything. You blame yourself, you blame others, you blame God, the universe, Mother Nature. You're bitter, exhausted and feel like an NICU nurse yourself with all the medical jargon you now understand and use in everyday conversations.

But I'm here to say something to you, anyone who's been through it, going through it or knows someone who is going through it. You get through it. You make it out, you can never see the light at the end of the tunnel and that's OK. You are stronger than you think and you just keep on keeping on until that day when you walk through the doors to that unit and they say you can take your baby home. Because at that moment, however long you waited to hold them, however long you watched other people changing their nappies and feeding them, however long you waited to bath them, clothe them, kiss them, see their hair or eyes, all of it disappears. You wont believe me, I didn't believe it but it just fades because you can finally have that little fighter home.



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