Posts Tagged ‘premature birth’
When doctors sit down to take Ivy and Noah’s history I tell them
they were born at 30 weeks. (they are my second set of premature twins, Immy and Maddy were born at 35 weeks)
They nod their heads solemnly and ask about it some more
and my stock standard answer is always ;
“it was your normal premmie course”
and it was
but what does that mean, exactly
because it was in no way normal,
compared to a full term birth
and there were scary days in there
I had times when I didn’t cope.
Behind that seemingly flippant statement
is a powerful, emotional history.
Ivy and Noah were born late at night on the last day of Spring in 2005 -
originally, they were supposed to be Valentine’s babies
and then they were scheduled to be Christmas babies
but the pair had other plans.
I had bled
the pain and fear was all too much
and finally I started to labour
amongst the chaos of a family visit.
Decisions were made and I found myself watching the fluorescent lights of the hospital fly by me as my bed was taken to theatre
and then they were there.
Tiny and sweet.
I knew though
that we had a long road ahead.
They needed help to breathe,
help with their lungs.
That meant intubation,
a synthetic form of surfactant pushed into their lungs
Failed trials off and setbacks.
Gavage feeding, nasogastric tubes, lines, monitors and wires.
Days of not being able to hold them
learning about sternal rubs, apnoeas and breaths per minute.
Medications, fortifiers, and lots of tests.
Failure to thrive.
It meant feeling torn between home and the hospital,
that they were not exactly my babies
Pumping and stress and worry and lots of tears.
It meant feeling like a failure when they’d had a bad day
and triumphant when things went well.
It meant all of that over nine weeks inside of the NICU.
It was a typical, run of the mill, prem baby entry
and we all made it to the other side.
This year, on the last day of Spring, those tiny prem babies,
they’ll be five.
I wonder how I came to be so lucky to have them in my life
and I’m thankful that they were strong enough to fight.
November is Prematurity Awareness month and this week is National Premmie Week.
I will always be grateful for the doctors and the nurses who brought them safely through their prematurity.
He is so easy to look after,
this boy of mine -
easy going, interested in the world, lovable
but at the end of June the pre school teacher pulled me aside and voiced her concerns
about Noah’s fine motor skills.
He was struggling with puzzles and with buttons and couldn’t write his name or draw basic people figures.
On top of that, she said,
he was having trouble with balance too.
The truth is, I had not given Noah’s development much thought until that day.
he was just a normal child,
a normal boy child.
I knew that he had little interest in the same things that Ivy did.
I knew he had still not made up his mind as to whether he was left or right handed
and that sometimes he could be incredibly clumsy
but his vocabulary was amazing and his ability to soak up information and then feed it back to me, equally so.
I didn’t think he was delayed,
for a boy who was born at 30 weeks.
I said that I would talk with the paed and have him assess Noah
but in between that conversation and actually doing something about it,
Ivy became unwell and
everybody had to wait,
not just the boy.
and we set about making special time for the boy.
We had puzzle play (which he aced fairly quickly)
and lots of time practicing name writing,
scissor work and playdough too.
Still he could not define which hand he wanted to use -
he showed alot of confidence with his right hand but always reverted to the toddler style grip,
whereas when he used his left, he held the pencil properly
and used his left hand for scissors and to feed himself most of the time.
We practiced sorting and finding and screwing and unscrewing of nuts and bolts,
and lots of threading (and making pasta neclaces).
which Noah really loved and would spend a lot of time on
and Dave brought his childhood lego out too, for building and manipulating small parts
and he got better,
everyone could notice a difference
but true to my word, I finally took him to the paed last week
and while there is improvement, he has a tremor
and he will need occupational therapy to combat some weaknesses.
He also has another eye examination scheduled,
because, once again, there is concern that his eyesight is not what it should be.
I’m hoping with time, it will be okay
and he will catch up
and then I won’t feel so bad for missing the signs
that my little guy was lagging behind.
Have you had a premmie baby?
Oh, you have?
So you know.
You understand what it’s like to have your baby too soon.
You know the fear that rises up into your throat like a ball of fire when the doctors say that the baby is coming now.
You know how the world spins out of control as you do the calculations, listen to the statistics.
You remember the different emotions all mingled in together with the tears and the sweat and the adrenaline.
You know that feeling of wanting everything to be okay,
waiting for that first cry and celebrating when you hear the tiny mewing, so different from your expectations
waiting for that first cry and hearing nothing
but the quick, sharp movements of the midwives and doctors -
orders barking across the room and if you look to the open resuscitation table, you catch that first glimspe of your baby.
Boy or girl.
You’ve had a baby born too soon so you remember the tears, you remember those tiny little faces and crinkled eyes with milky blue newness peering out into the world.
You know that first, catch your breath moment of love, the first tentative touch before watching scrubbed in,blue gowned nurses run with your baby through the doors and out into the unknown.
If your little baby was ventilated, the memory of the hiss and whoomph of the machine, may still wake you at night,
the thought of the CPAP machine, pushing vital air into tiny lungs, just a little too underdeveloped to be able to work on their own.
The nasal canula covered in tape, pushing up tiny noses, which the NICU nurses refer to as ‘piggy’.
You remember the strange sights and smells and the sounds of the life giving machines that buzz and ping in the NICU and how your baby was wired up and canulated and monitored so that sometimes you could hardly believe that there was a baby in amongst all of that medical copper.
Doctors and nurses giving you updates on this tiny little creature, who is so much yours but in many ways not your own. You nod and take it in, seconds later not remembering a thing, except for the first time you reached into the humidicrib and stroked the soft downy newborn fuzz and felt the warmth as your baby grasped your giant pinky finger.
There are words that keep you up long into the night, big words, bigger risks, while you sit and pump the milk that will eventually be tubed into a stomach that is the size of a marble.
If you are a dad you might have stood by your new baby’s incubator and wondered when this would end, wondered why it had happened and how you are going to juggle family and work and now daily trips into the hospital.
You will know about the babes that didn’t make it. You will remember them long after they have left this world.
You will know the mixed feelings.
Horror, sadness but thankfulness that your baby is still hanging in there.
You might know how it feels when your baby stops breathing.
Those heart stopping minutes as strangers work to save a little life.
The absolute relief when they are stable once more, the apnoea machines that alarm and the sternal rub that you become quite good at in those early weeks because your baby forgets to breathe more than once a day.
You’ve had a premmie baby, so you know.
You can remember the first feed that wasn’t a tube, the very first bath outside of the humidicrib, the first 24 hours without oxygen.
You know that often it’s one step forward and two steps back
and then one day it’s just three steps forward.
You know about the little celebrations,
hitting the 2kg mark (knowing that home is not far away),
the first time they wear clothes instead of nothing but a nappy and how happy it makes you feel.
I know that , if you were one of the lucky ones, you can recall that last day in the NICU when you said goodbye, to the doctors and the nurses who had become your world, for a while.
Those first shakey steps out of the unit.
Perhaps, like me, you stopped dead at the doors of the hospital, unable to move, fearful of what lay ahead, wondering how you would cope with these tiny little beings, without the support of the NICU.
I remember those days that bled into weeks and then months.
I look at them.
I know they are miracles.
It’s Premmie Awareness week in Australia.