My sweet miracle baby who fought for her life!
Please forgive the out of focus photos – I tried uploading photos from other people but it didn’t feel right. This is my story from my life.
I was 27 years old when I fell pregnant with Emma. She is my miracle baby and I want to share her story with you! This story comes from my heart and even though it is more than 2 decades ago I can still remember every single detail – like it was yesterday!
I was in the process of finishing my PhD and had been accepted to go and do my post doctoral studies in the USA when I was late – yip out of nowhere and for the first time in my life I was late. Not only was I late but after 10 pregnancy tests I was definitely very pregnant with tons and tons of the pregnancy hormone hcg (human chorionic gonadotropin). I was so shocked and speechless whereas my husband was elated over the moon with joy!
I put the brakes on my International studies and concentrated on my thesis and having a baby. I was lucky and grateful to have a wonderful lab partner who could assist me with any radioactive work so that I could actually complete my degree (I share more details about having a degree in the 21st Century in another post be sure to check it out). I have to tell you now that I was NAUSEOUS 24 hours out of 24 hours! Without fail I threw up every single morning and eating was a struggle for me. Plus I had such unhealthy cravings I clearly remember eating 3 cream doughnuts almost every day!
At my 25 week check up my gynecologist expressed concern as my blood pressure was up and there was some protein in my urine (signs of pre-eclampsia). I mean….how did this happen? He put me on bed rest and honestly I was beyond scared. I felt so alone. I had next to no family and none of my friends had kids. So there I was on my bed trying to be calm and take it easy.
It all happened so quickly
Things did not go well on that bed – at the next visit I was hospitalized and my blood pressure was taken every 2 hours! I was so scared and so unprepared for what was coming. I can remember the exact evening when the nurse went very quiet and she said ‘ek gaan dokter roep’ and within 30 minutes he was there! He told me that my baby was in distress and that we needed to schedule an emergency c-section. I thought I was scared before but I was now TERRIFIED. I was only 27 weeks pregnant would my baby be okay? My doctor said pray for a girl – girls are stronger than boys and they have a higher survival rate.
Dear G-dplease let my baby be a girl. please protect her and make her strong. please let her be okay. please let her fight.
The next morning 8.00 am my little miracle baby Emma was born she was so tiny (1.26 kg/ 2,78 pounds) and she had to live in a box! We were told that the first 72 hours are crucial. Due to my reaction to the anesthetics I was so ill I could not go and see her. However, I did count the hours, and we nearly made it as well. At 70 hours our pediatrician told us that Emma needed surfactant which is a drug that assists breathing. This drug saved her life.
My pictures saved from Emma in the Neonatal ICU one – three days old
What is the outlook for babies born at 28 weeks?
By 27 weeks, premature babies are no longer considered micro preemies. Now called “very premature babies,” these babies have a greater than 95 percent rate of survival past birth and NICU discharge. However, 27 and 28 weekers still require a lot of medical care and can be expected to stay in the Neonatal ICU for long periods of time.
By 28 weeks, premature babies weigh about 2 1/2 pounds and are about 16 inches long from head to toe. Rapid eye development is occurring, and premature babies born after 27 weeks can blink and no longer have fused eyelids.
Most require treatment with oxygen, surfactant, and mechanical assistance to help them breathe. Some of these babies can be fed breast milk or formula through a tube threaded through their nose or mouth into the stomach, although others will need to be fed intravenously. A baby born at this time can grasp a finger. These babies can open their eyes, and they begin to stay awake and alert for short periods. Babies born at 28 to 31 weeks are at risk for medical complications. Babies born with a very low birth weight (less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces) remain at risk for serious disabilities.
How was the 1st year?
And this was always our fear – that Emma would develop a serious disability. It was immensely tough coming home with no baby – this took ages to adapt to. For the first year or so of her life I cried and just cried. I think I cried an entire river. It was probably the darkest time of my life. I remember cutting my hair quite short and my husband told me he didn’t like it. I don’t think I spoke to him for a month.
We dressed her in doll clothes – she was that tiny
Sleep was minimal and my best friend
When did it get better?
The hospital had a support group for parents of prem babies which we went to. Half way through all the speeches I suddenly realized that my child was going to be okay. After monthly check ups she was on track for all her milestones (don’t ever underestimate these ever) and did not have a single disability. At 11 months she started walking and before I knew it she was talking. And as every day passed our fears subsided – I think by the age of 2 it was better – maybe before then but the paranoia was so real!
This is one of my best moments
Do you have any advice or suggestions?
Having a miracle baby is life changing – having a prem baby is earth shattering. I will never be the same again. Emma was a fighter and still is one. It is very different now from when I had my miracle baby but I think my advice would be the same.
- Pray hard!
- Get support – never ever think you are alone.
- Don’t blame yourself – tough one because I know I did nothing wrong but the guilt is always there.
- Try and prepare yourself mentally for not bringing baby home
- Your heart will break but it will be okay again.
- Ask questions. If you need help ask for it. If you don’t understand tell someone. I regret not reaching out more and asking for help.
- Be thankful for all the things that make life beautiful (these things aren’t on TV and don’t cost money).
- Keep believing.
This was taken a few months ago at Emma’s graduation – she is now 23 years old and working as a candidate attorney. Thank you Em for fighting so hard. Thank you for being my miracle baby – you changed me for the better! I am grateful every single day that you made it.
Do (or did you) you have a miracle baby? I would love to hear from you. Let’s connect.
All the loves