Meet Kristina, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 28 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 7 weeks
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: General Preemie Challenges, Developmental Delays, Postpartum Health Concerns, Raising a Child with a Disability
Before my preeclampsia diagnosis, I had thought that our struggle with infertility would be our greatest challenge in growing our family, but I delivered my son, Flynn, at 28 weeks gestation in February 2017 and it became one of the most difficult periods of my life. After almost two months in the NICU, Flynn was discharged, but as we adjusted to life at home, we noticed he wasn’t meeting his milestones. At 9 months old, we were given a referral to Early Intervention and our schedule was suddenly packed full of speech, occupational, physical, feeding, and sensory processing therapies. When he was two years old, Flynn received a diagnosis of periventricular leukomalacia and cerebral palsy.
Every day, as parents, we are working with his medical teams and therapists to help him grow and thrive!
I want everyone that has a child/grandchild in the NICU to know that in the journey of a child’s life, their NICU journey is just a part of their story. When you’re in the thick of it, it can feel like you’re not going to survive, but it’s simply a season. Even when it doesn’t feel like you can handle another day, you will get make it through. You’ll change, you’ll fight, you’ll grow and you’ll be amazing.
There are beautiful moments in this experience, in the midst of all the trauma, the first time you see your baby, the first time you hold them, their first bottle, when they finally graduate to room air, and every gram gained or dirty diaper (truly). These moments are what you will remember most.
Don’t be afraid to fall apart. Cry when you need to cry as it is not a sign of weakness but will only make you stronger. Lastly, remember that it’s OK to ask for help, either professionally or from a friend or family member. You are important, too. You are not a burden and you are surrounded by a community of parents who are here to encourage and support you.