Meet Ginger, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 23 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 116 days
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: extreme prematurity, speech/feeding/sensory therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, delays, apraxia, sensory processing disorder, ADD, ADHD, and hyperactivity.
I never thought I would have a premature baby. Having our little girl at 23 weeks gestation never crossed either of our minds. I did everything by the book during my pregnancy – two days before going into labor I had an exam and an EKG, and the doctor sent us away feeling overjoyed with what he called our “perfect pregnancy.” But on 12/15/2012 our little RaeLee Elyse rushed into this world at just 12 inches long and weighing 1lb. 4oz.
Her birth was traumatic for both of us and RaeLee spent 116 days in the NICU. During our early journey I longed for someone who had been through similar circumstances to share with. While going through this rollercoaster so many people said that they “understood,” but I knew they really did not. No one I knew, family or otherwise, had ever had a 1lb. 4oz. baby who required life support to take her first breath. No one I knew had a baby so medically fragile that they were unable to hold them for over a month.
But since then we have met so many wonderful people along this crazy journey and I know God put us on this path for a reason. I truly believe that it is my duty to pass on the information that I have learned through my daughter and to remind parents of micropreemies that their children are special – look how hard they had to fight to be here!
The micropreemie journey can be like walking through a mine field for both preemies and their families. The moms and dads of the earliest babies celebrate not only the milestones, but also the minutes. Every hour in the early days is hard won. Every milestone met, a triumph. A micro-preemie parent’s courage and resilience may be tested to the very limits. The struggle may feel never-ending, but it’s important that parents know they are never alone.