Preparing for preemies: My baby was born at 27 weeks
When I was 26 weeks and six days pregnant I went to hospital, completely expecting to be told I was an overanxious, neurotic, depressed pregnant woman. I had a headache and felt a bit strange. It was hard to describe. I had my blood pressure done, urine samples taken, bloods drawn and a scan.
With each procedure I felt more and more uneasy. It became apparent that I had severe, rapid onset pre eclampsia. I was very poorly, and my baby was in deep, deep trouble.
The sonographer estimated my baby to weigh 800 grams, when he should have been around 1,000 grams. I had an emergency caesarean section the day after my diagnosis, at just 27 weeks. When my baby was delivered, he was so tiny he weighed 650 grams.
We named him Joseph, which means “Jehovah will enlarge”. I couldn’t see him until he was 10 hours old, because I was too sick to be moved. When I saw him, I loved him.
I felt immediately bonded, but it was a very long road. After 76 days in the Special Care Baby Unit, we brought him home. Once home, although Joseph was well, and grew in strength every day, I found it very hard, and wasn’t prepared for all the emotions that came with it.
Whilst I had had some experience with premature babies, through friends, and had some medical knowledge through my work as a clinical case manager, nothing prepares you for being thrust into that situation, and I feel that having information written down in a clear format would have helped me crystallise my thoughts and prepare for the journey ahead.
Today sees the publication of a book which will arm parents of premature babies with plenty of information and which I feel sure would have eased some of my worries. “Having a Premature Baby”, produced by Tommy’s (thanks to a grant from the ASDA foundation), is a free guide to everything parents who have been told their baby may be premature, or have had a premature baby, will need to know.
I was personally involved in putting the book together,and mine and Joseph’s experiences are just some of several case studies which will hopefully equip new parents with better understanding of what’s to come, and answers to their questions.
I am one of the rare “preemie” parents who have been in a unit and had some experience before it all happened to me. Of course it was still a great shock, but I was up to speed on a lot of the jargon, medical terminology etc and was used to asking questions and challenging consultants. With 50,000 babies born prematurely in the UK every year, imagine the nightmare for parents who have little or no knowledge about premature birth or its implications.
If I had had access to “Having a Premature Baby” in that 24 hour period immediately after Joseph’s birth I would have felt so much more reassured and prepared. It explains everything from why babies arrive prematurely, to reducing to the risk of premature labour, gives full insight into the difficulties of birth for infants born weeks before their due date and tells you everything about what to expect from your baby’s time in hospital to how to care for them when you take them home.
From 16 weeks pregnant, there were concerns about me developing pre eclampsia. I was careful not to use Google, but had seen in my pregnancy books that pre eclampsia means you may be induced early, or put on bed rest. None of my books mentioned that I could deliver such an early baby through caesarean section. Tommy’s guide clearly explains pre eclampsia and why some women have to deliver so early.
Now Joseph, that tiny little baby, is two-and-a-half (pictured)! He is cheeky, happy, smiley, loquacious and very clever, and has pretty much caught up, although he is a little on the dainty side. I am proud to have shared our story to help other families who are starting their journey with their precious premature children.
Copies of ‘Having a Premature Baby’ are available to order at: www.tommys.org/store (free including postage and packaging)
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