Meet Ashlee, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 26 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 158 days
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: Chronic Lung Disease and BPD, feeding issues, tracheotomy, gtube, home ventilation, PDA ligation, transferring hospitals, PPROM and extended hospital stay.
During our time in three different hospitals, we faced collapsed lungs, blood transfusions, PDA, ROP, a tracheotomy, gtube, long term ventilation, and so much more. As I watched my very sick baby fight every day, I struggled with feelings of loneliness, selfishness and guilt. The NICU journey has forever changed me and I still mourn the loss of my third trimester and the newborn phase that I’ll never get to experience. Our little boy is thriving now but I’ll never forget the events that brought us to this point.
While our time in the NICU lasted a long, frightening 6 months, our prematurity journey is ongoing. The isolation doesn’t end when you are able to bring your baby home. There are a few things I hope every preemie parent remembers on their journey:
- You don’t have to go through all of this alone. There is a huge community of support available.
- It’s OK to let yourself feel all of the emotions that go along with this journey.
- Every baby is different. It can be hard to avoid comparing your baby with another little one, but each baby grows and develops at their own rate. And our preemies need extra time to catch up.
- This NICU experience is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with mourning the pregnancy and delivery that you didn’t have.
This journey is so hard. And not every story has a happy ending. I just want to be able to give someone support as they need it. I want to be the safe person that a parent can talk to about whatever they are feeling. And to remind parents that you can be an advocate for your baby during this journey.