Eight years ago, I was preparing to finally leave the first trimester behind. The yukkies were (hopefully) almost over. I was a prepared preggo. I read books, joined websites, and read all the materials my doctor gave me. And yet, when the pain struck that day in May of 2003 I had no idea what was happening. First, I was told it was my gall bladder and then the news came. You will be having your baby this weekend. What? Um no. We have Lamaze this weekend and she's not supposed to be here for another 5+ weeks.
What happened then became a haze as I entered in the world of HELLP Syndrome. Something I had no clue even existed. Something that I have since learned takes the lives of women and children on a regular basis. I developed severe preeclampsia just shy of 35 weeks and had to deliver my baby in order to save my own life in addition to hers. That 4lb guppy is now seven years old and is very healthy physically.
Fast-forward three years and our son is born at 37 weeks (what my OB calls "not quite term-ish"). I had been battling gestational hypertension for about five weeks prior to D-day. And that day, my OB told me it was a good day for me to deliver as things appeared to be heading south within my body. He was born slightly early and while small at 5lbs 6oz, he did great and came home with us.
So many friends & family members have walked the road of prematurity. It's a road I would not wish upon anyone. No one dreams of having a baby in the NICU. The dreams of the "perfect" pregnancy and "perfect" birth go quickly out the door. And the guilt that comes along the prematurity road is horrifying. Asking yourself daily what you did to cause this. Is the issue your child is having now related to their prematurity? This is not a fun or easy path to walk.
But having a premature baby allows a gratefulness for life to enter your life that I'm not sure otherwise can be introduced. You cherish the small things and are so damn proud of the accomplishments your child makes. You know and have empathy for the road that others travel with difficult pregnancies, birth experiences, and issues with your child.
Please visit the March of Dimes to learn more about prematurity and how to help us fight it.