Personal Experiences with Prematurity
On the morning of August 8th, 2014, my mother was going into her scheduled ultrasound at 32 weeks and a day. During the appointment, her regular OBGYN has sent her to a high-risk OBGYN due to low movement by the baby. The high-risk doctor saw my mom and wanted her to do kick counts overnight and come back the next morning. The next day being August 8th, due to the low kick count and no movement on the ultrasound they had rushed her into an emergency c-section. This stressful situation had my mother wondering if she was going to give birth to a stillborn, which is any mothers’ worst nightmare. She had given birth later that day, my parents saw her for a few minutes then she had been rushed back to the NICU due to her oxygen levels. My sister had struggled for two days breathing on her own; on August 10th she had been put on a ventilator to assist the baby with breathing. What the doctors found after the delivery was that the mothers’ body was attacking the fetus (my sister) because her body was thinking it was a foreign invader, her placenta was pretty much disintegrating, therefore the fetus was not receiving any nutrients. My mother had been informed that she was clear to go and would be leaving the hospital without her baby, which is also any mothers’ worst nightmare.
When my parents came home everything just felt off. My two other sisters and I were excited but yet confused as to why our parents had come home without our new baby sister. They had to explain to our younger selves that she was really sick and was not going to be coming home in a few days. Those few days turned into a long, stressful, anticipating month. A month of wondering what she looks like, wondering when she will come home and be with our family, and just wondering if she was going to be ok. My mom had talked to us about when our baby sister would come home, we would have to always wash and sanitize before we held her to make sure we did not get her sick. This conversation got us very excited because it sounds like she could be coming home any day! It was stressful on my parents as well, they had to continue to drive back and forth from home and the hospital to feed my sister and just to see her and check up on her. It was stressful for them because their baby was somewhere that they were not. Not only were they stressed, but they were also always worried about getting messages like “we are going to take her off the ventilator to see how she does,” to “we just put her back on the ventilator because she was not breathing well for herself.” There was a big role for my sisters and I to take on as being the “big sisters,” is to always keep the house clean because any day we could get a call saying she has been released from the hospital, and she can finally come home.
Now my sister is seven she is healthy and a small bundle of joy, life would not be the same without her. When the COVID-19 virus first came about we were scared for her health because we all knew that her immune system will always be a bit weaker due to her prematurity. We kept her at home as much as we could and the first thing we would always do first when we got home would be to wash and sanitize our hands to keep all viruses and germs out of our house. We are and will always be cautious with her when we go places, even if she happens to get a little cough we still watch her because we never know when it could turn out to be something serious. But aside from always being cautious, I love watching her grow up and learn new things; she is getting into many different curricular activities and building lifelong friendships. Having an 11 year age gap, my mother thought we would not be as close as we are, now I treat her as if she is my own.
Throughout this whole adventure, we have no one else to thank but the amazing healthcare workers that had taken care of our family. The restless nights taking care of all the NICU babies to the early mornings can be very tiresome, but all the healthcare workers did an outstanding job with keeping my sister healthy and just being there for my parents. Any parent that has to go through having a preemie baby is very nerve-wracking but ends up being the biggest blessing. The saying “I believe in miracles” will always be in the back of my head, I believe that anything and everything is possible!