The Birth of my Preemie Daughter

In August of 2009, my husband, son, and I flew from Oregon to California to attend the wedding of my brother-in-law. I was 31 weeks pregnant when we flew down. We stayed with my parents and were at my in-laws house often, as they live only a few miles away from my parents.

The wedding was beautiful. My son was the ring bearer, but refused to walk down the aisle during the wedding. Oh, well, what are you going to do? He was only two.

Two days later, while some friends were visiting us at my parents' house, I had some spotting and pretty regular contractions. The contractions were nothing new, I'd been having Braxton-Hicks since I was three months pregnant. The spotting, however, worried me. Pretty soon, the frequency of the contractions started to worry me as well.

That night, I checked into the hospital with contractions every five or six minutes. It was determined I was not in labor and, after spending a sleepless night there, I was released to go home, still having contractions, just not as frequently.

I slept most of the day away at my parents house. The next morning I woke up to frequent contractions again. This time they were three minutes apart and stronger. So back to the hospital we went.

After examining me, the doctor said my cervix had not changed any and I was not really in labor. She left the room and my water broke. So much for false labor.

Since I was now at only 32 weeks gestation, the doctors were concerned about my baby's lung development - the lungs normally develop at 34 weeks. However, since we did not know why my water broke, I was not given steroids to aid in developing her lungs.

I was scheduled for an emergency Cesarean section. The c-section was no surprise, I knew I needed one already. The surprise was that my daughter was going to be born eight weeks early and we were 1,000 miles away from home! I remember it clearly. I was wheeled into an operating room and there were a lot of unfamiliar eyes peering over blue surgical masks. I'm sure that there were a few doctors that I had met before, but everyone looks the same when swathed in blue, and I didn't recognize anyone.

A nurse and the anesthesiologist were giving me instructions on how to position my body so that the spinal tap could be put in. I was having a hard time bending the way they wanted me to, and I was having a hard time coping with the reality of what was happening. It was a relief when they were finally done and my husband could come into the room.

Ten minutes later I heard an unfamiliar sound breaking through my rushing thoughts. Was that my baby? I wondered. There was no "It's a girl!" or "Here's your baby!" like I expected. No one had told me that she had been born - I had to ask, "Is that the baby?" When my husband answered in the affirmative, my next question was, "It is a girl, right?" We had not been 100% positive from the ultrasounds.

My baby was rushed away and my husband was escorted out of the room while the surgeon closed me up. I was wheeled to the recovery room where I spent the next two hours alone while waiting for the anesthesia to leave my body. I didn't know where my husband was (I later found out he had asked a nurse to tell me he went to eat) and had not seen my baby. So, I cried, alone.

When my husband finally came in, he had pictures of our little girl. He also had a report - she was breathing on her own. I was so relieved. I had been so concerned that she would have lung problems, but God is good, so very good.

Our daughter ended up being in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a total of three weeks. She is our miracle child. She never had any breathing problems, she never had any feeding problems, she never even had jaundice - something that often occurs in preemies.

She needed to stay in the hospital until she could take all of her feedings by mouth - either bottle fed or breast fed. The suck-swallow-breathe reflex that full term babies have is not developed in babies born before 34 weeks gestation, so it needs to be learned. Our little girl did an excellent job learning how to eat. At 35 weeks gestation she was released from the hospital weighing just under five pounds.

The time she spent in the hospital was not an easy time for me or my family. My two year old son needed me to be around him during the day, so my husband and I went to the hospital at night after he was in bed. Three weeks of long days and long trips to the hospital took their toll on me both physically and emotionally. There were many times I cried myself to sleep.

Having our daughter born eight weeks early and 1,000 miles away from home was a mixed blessing. While we were not at our home, we were near our families. My son had six entire weeks of spending time with his grandparents, and we had built in babysitters for when we were needed at the hospital. We also had all the love and support we could ask for, and more.

We flew home with our new family of four one week after our daughter was released from the hospital. The doctors were not at all concerned about her flying, though I was a little concerned with the flu that was starting to be spread. I wore my tiny little girl in a wrap the entire trip. Walking through security, the TSA agent pointed at the lump on my chest with a question on his face.  I moved the wrap to the side to show the tiny face inside.  He was shocked, but waved me on through.
It was such a relief to be back home. It took quite a few weeks for us to get organized - we had been planning on getting all the baby stuff out once we returned from our vacation. Oops! But it has turned out all right.

I am so thankful that God spared us any heartache we could have had with a premature baby. We learned how blessed we are with family and friends. And I am blessed with a wonderful husband and two little children, whom I pray will grow up to be followers of God.

You can read more of the story on these posts:
Falling Apart
Overwhelming Mother Love
Blessings and Frustrations