May 4th was Parents of Preemies Day. This is an annual event created and supported by Graham’s Foundation to honor the parents of premature babies.
Parents of Preemies Day “recognizes the courage and commitment it takes to stay strong and resilient when premature birth turns a family’s world upside down,” as quoted from the official Parents of Preemies Day website. You can find out more about the joys and challenges of preemie parenthood and ways to celebrate next year!
I had planned on taking part more fully in the official twitter chat because there are no events in our area, but we ended up going to Entertrainment Junction with Gammy to celebrate instead. You can search twitter for #parentsofpreemiesday to catch up on yesterdays conversations.
Our preemie parenting journey started on February 19, 2012. My water broke unexpectedly at 29+6 gestation at 10:10 pm and Drake was born the next morning at 10:07 am at exactly 30 weeks. Drake spent 34 days in the NICU. As a parent of a newborn in the NICU, you celebrate different milestones from other parents. The first day on CPAP instead of intubated. The first day on nasal cannula. The first time they can wear clothes or open their eyes. Day 4, the first day we were able to hold him and do kangaroo care was also the day I was discharged from the hospital. It’s a different world than any expectant couple believes they will experience.
Preemies don’t just go home from the NICU and magically transform into a healthy newborn. Families often face numerous, continuing specialist visits, special equipment, special feeding requirements, and isolation from their family and friends for protection from deadly viruses, such as RSV. Every family has their own unique journey. Our life after NICU follow-ups and specialists included clubfoot treatment, hernia repair surgery, mouth cyst, low tone, ophthalmology, failure to thrive and extra calorie intake, and cardiology. We were in RSV isolation March to June the first year and August to April the second year. We started Early Intervention at 14 months because he was having trouble with gross motor skills and communication. We have been lucky, so far all of Drake’s complications due to prematurity have been treatable.
As his parents, my husband and I both processed our time in the NICU very differently and the past two years have been a challenging time for our marriage. My husband had to work and finish the renovations on our house. My husband and his best friend had stripped our carpets the weekend I went into labor, so we were living at my mother-in-law’s house. I wanted to spend as much time as possible at the NICU, and my employer did not offer paid maternity leave. A lot of my emotional turmoil, pain, and hormones were borne by my husband in those early days. Our parents all still work, and were working out of town. We have recently begun discussing some of our feelings and the things that happened then. Even last year, many things my husband still preferred not to discuss.
Two years later, everything is getting better and our son is unbelievably, undeniably, amazing. We are in awe of him and how far he has come.
I hope all preemies and their parents had a beautiful Parents of Preemies Day 2014!
Side Note: We got his first school pics in last week, and they are fabulous!