Today we’re excited to feature a blog post from Jaime, who is part of our Parent Mentor volunteer program. Her areas of expertise are breastfeeding support for preemie moms and pumping support for preemie support, as well as support in dealing with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. If you’re a preemie parent looking for support, please check out our mentor program – help is an email away!
It is often said that no one ever expects to have a premature baby, but what do you do when the unimaginable happens to you? I was having a perfectly normal pregnancy until suddenly – I wasn’t. I’d had a headache for 12 hours that just wouldn’t go away. A quick trip to the hospital I was supposed to deliver at resulted in an even quicker ambulance ride across town and the delivery of an impossibly small baby girl, born weighing only 1 lb and 9 oz at 27 weeks gestation. All in less than 5 hours.
My headache was the only sign I had of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. The only remedy is to deliver baby so that both mom and baby are safe. I know I never imagined such a crazy start to this journey of motherhood and not a day goes by that I don’t think about how fortunate I am to have been able to bring that impossibly tiny girl home after 71 days in the NICU.
As one that didn’t really consider the possibility of having a premature baby, I was completely overwhelmed those first days and weeks. I threw myself into finding resources that could help me care for this tiny new life because it felt like something I was able to do. Not being able to hold and care for your new baby can be downright heartbreaking and I’m not a person that does well “not doing”. I need a purpose – something to keep me busy. Not being allowed to hold my brand new daughter or fully care for her was extremely difficult for me, and in the beginning it was very difficult to stay positive.
As the days grew into weeks and then the weeks a month and beyond, I found that the key to maintaining my positivity was the resources that I had found. Through these resources I was able to learn the importance of things such as kangaroo care, allowing myself rest and simply letting others help. While I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, these resources gave me the feeling that I wasn’t alone and others had gone through similar experiences and come out on the other side. While I was far from actually being alone – my husband truly deserves some sort of medal – having the opportunity to read and connect with other families that knew what we were going through brought a peace that words fail to express.
I’ve been so very fortunate to turn my daughter’s premature birth into an opportunity to share our story with others and hopefully provide some valuable resources to others. Being a parent volunteer with Graham’s Foundation, among others, helps me to feel that our experience has a greater purpose and may just help someone else.
Some resources that I found helpful during our journey include:
- Graham’s Foundation
- Hand to Hold
- March of Dimes
- Facebook Groups – search far and wide! There are a wide range of groups, everything from Preemie Feeding Challenges, to specific topics such as preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome