Prematurity awareness day….and being the mom of a preemie (long!)

Presenting Brendan Gerard H. ....

It’s funny this is an entry that should be so easy for me to write since it is after all about a topic so near and dear to my heart. Yet for days probably weeks I have been contemplating what exactly to write about today. I actually wrote out an entry yesterday and deleted it , it had the whole story of my pregnancy and then I got to the NICU and it was all a blur. It’s funny that I can write a 10 page paper for any of my classes on any given topic but ask me to write about my experience as a preemie mom and I clam up. So I scrapped it and here I am trying to figure out where to begin.

How do I get this message across to you my readers that Premature babies are born everyday in every country to every family. Prematurity doesn’t discriminate against skin color, religion, race, weight or socioeconomic status. I started off today just like every other day wake up for school, check on Brendan, jump in the shower, get dressed, check email, check Facebook and that is where the reality of premature babies and that still with all the awareness out there it is not enough hit me. Did you know that in America we got a D. Every year there is a report card issued on every country and states care of babies. Yes folks a D, what is this is it that we are still failing so many babies!?! To find out where your state ranked click here.

Quote from March of Dimes:

“Today is Prematurity Awareness Day®, and I really wish I had some happy news to report. We just released the second annual Premature Birth Report Card and America scored a depressing “D.” What that means is that every year, we’re failing more than half a million babies.

Each state received its own report card, by the way, and you can find your state’s grade here. No state earned an “A,” and Vermont was the only state that received a “B.” Even though seven states improved their grade, I’m sure you’ll agree we have a long way to go.”

So here is our story:

Brendan Gerard H. was born on June 9, 2008 at 11:39 p.m via emergency c-section in Annapolis Maryland. Many people think that premature babies are born to drug dealers, alcoholics or women with a lack of prenatal care. In my case this wasn’t the situation at all it was simply that my body was “toxic as hell” (a direct quote from my doctor). Brendan’s birth didn’t go according to anyones plan, as the latest he was going to arrive was 37 weeks because of my blood pressure. But here he was at 28 weeks and 5 days and he was ok, not great but ok. A couple hours after the surgery when I was moved back to my room, and I was informed that Brendan had to be transferred out I got to see him briefly. Brendan had to be transferred out of that hospital because their NICU was full. Seeing your baby, the one who you already failed, in a incubator with tubes and wires doing for them what you couldn’t is heartbreaking. Most moms get to feel instant love me I felt like and I wanted to love him but more then anything I was afraid of him. However I knew that those doctors would take excellent care of him so that was a great thing. In the following days Devin, my mom and dad would go between the NICU and the hospital I was in to tend to both Brendan and while keeping me updated on the baby.

It was a rollercoaster ride for 58.5 days. We had so many ups and downs and learned terms and medical jargon that I never wanted to learn. Brady’s, desats, pic line, GAS test, pulse ox, apnea, reflux, ROP, breastmilk and pumping, measuring in cc’s and ml’s and so many more. We came to know every nurse in the NICU, at every shift and every week we made sure to butter them up by bringing them treats. Hey, we feed them they will take extra special care of Brendan right!?! Yes! The thing about the NICU is it keeps your baby alive but you never get to feel like you are a parent until your baby comes home. People ask how the baby is and look like they are holding their breath until you answer. And every time phone rings and it’s a call from the hospital you assume the worst. While in the NICU your life kind of comes to a stop, as it should.

People would say things like ” It must be so hard to leave your baby” and I would just smile and nod. At first it wasn’t hard because we couldn’t take care of him. We simply could not do what the machines were doing. In the end though every day when really what you want to tell them is you have no idea how hard it is everynight for me to leave my child when all I want to do is smuggle him out under my shirt.

We were lucky our NICU experience was relatively short and easy, if you can even say anything about the NICU is easy.

I think this is the only picture that captures the true feeling of the NICU .. I was terrified!

58.5 days later on August 8, 2008 – this is the day we became parents, yay! Brendan was released from the NICU and here is my entry from our carepages site that day:

“August 8, 2008 – Day 59 – End of NICU journey
Posted Aug 8, 2008 9:22pm
I am writing this entry one handed with a baby in my lap and a huge smile on my face. Brendan is home and life is great! He had a great day full of growing and changing. We got to the hospital around 1030 this morning the nurse went over basic care needs for Brendan and more importantly how much and often to feed him. The lady from the home care company got there around 1130 to show us how to use Brendans monitor and to let us know a homecare nurse is coming to the house Sunday to make sure we are ok and that the machine is working properly. Brendan is on a monitor for his breathing and heart rate. It is similar to the monitor in the hospital it will make a loud annoying beep if something is wrong, it records if he has any desats or bradys. Shortly after that we changed Brendans outfit and began our life as a family. Such a weird feeling after so many days and nights of leaving the hospital empty handed to finally be leaving with our baby boy. We went from the hospital straight to the pediatrician. Brendan is up to 4 pounds 9 ounces! He also got his first set of shots. From there we headed home so Brendan could meet Cherokee, I can already tell they are going to be the best of buds. Since being home we have changed some diapers, fed him and taken a ton of pictures.
Life is perfect!”

Like my new hat!?!

That was truly the best day of our lives and where our real journey as preemie parents began. This is when our life was consumed by doctors appointments, surgery, hibernating, worrying about a baby with a compromised immune system getting sick and just normal everyday parent worries began. But would we trade it!?! NO WAY! This gift was bestowed upon us for a reason we may not know why now but we will one day.

first full day home...we were scared

Through being a preemie mom I have been fortunate enough to meet several other preemie moms in the area and our babies were all born around the same gestational age so we all get each others concerns. It is nice to have someone to bond and commiserate with about our experiences and fears. Please be sure to check out their blogs today also: Cameron & Evan and Marino

March of Dimes is an excellent organization to donate to if you are looking to help the fight for preemies. They will take any size donation large or small. Please help other babies like Brendan have a chance at a healthy start in life. Click the image below to donate. And thank you!

And here we have five thriving and happy preemies.... Brendan, Simon, Cameron, Marino and Evan. Preemie buddies for life!

Our miracle baby Brendan ..... 20+ pounds laters and defying the odds!



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7 responses to “Prematurity awareness day….and being the mom of a preemie (long!)

  1. he’s beautiful..
    If only we could be the last round of preemie parents forever, eh?

  2. Laura

    Like Trish said, if only we could be the last preemie parents ever. Great blog post. And thanks for the shout out. It’s been a very emotional day.

  3. I had a hard time deciding what to write for my blog…you did a great job. I love your pictures!

  4. Melody

    I’m so glad you wrote this blog! because I didn’t realize I by chance had my baby shower on this day, Nov. 17th! How special. This also happens to be my preemie brothers birthday.
    I gave birth to a 2 lb. 4.5 oz. baby this past Sept. ’09 and she JUST came home this week. I know exactly what you feel and went through all those things you wrote. I would NEVER wish this kind of birth experience on anyone, it’s so tough, but I think those who WERE “low risk” who had preemies are strong people that have the kind of patience and love meant for these sweet babies.
    Know that you aren’t alone to all those out there with preemies! It comforts me to think that there are lots of mothers who are awake just as I am while feeding, changing, burping, and smiling at my little one. Love to you all.


    @MELODY..GODBLESS YOUR LITTLE ONE ! YOU GAVE ME CHILLS WHEN I READ YOUR COMMENT.. my baby girl was born 28 weeks 2pds 6oz 143/4 inches she was also born sept 9 .. and i took her home about the same time you DID… really i feel much better everytime i read a nicu or story.. i say we are all blessed in everywayy… we come a long wayy..

  6. Thank you so much for joining the BloggersUnite to Fight for Preemies and all your support. I love your long post and think it’s something many people would benefit from reading. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog posts.

  7. November 17th is a big day in our house, too. It is my 24-week preemie twins’ birthday and National Prematurity Awareness Day. We are among the lucky ones, and this year we celebrated our tiny babies’ 19th birthday. They are now happy, healthy 19 year olds. I believe you when you say you wouldn’t trade your experience for anything, because I feel that way, too. I wish my babies had had an easier start in life, yet I marvel at what amazing people they have become, and I think some of their strength comes from having survived their preemie-hood. To inspire and support parents who are at an early place on their journey through preemie-hood, I am posting the journals I kept during our 5-month NICU stay at Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds. I wish you and your son great health and joy as you grow together.

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