My story about the premature born son
To all current and future parents,
My name is Maria and I’m a mother of two children, two sons – Stephen and Andrew. I always knew that when I grow up I want to have children, and the idea of having sons was somehow intuitively instilled in my idyllic image of myself since the childhood. I mean that period when all the girls imagine their wedding, the wedding dress … that movie. I have a younger sister, and the relatives in my family are mostly female. Thus I “decided” that when I grow up I will have my family with sons.
I had a wonderful pregnancy with my first son, Stefan; it lasted full 40 weeks but I went to work almost to the very end. I give birth at “Acibadem Sistina” Hospital with a caesarean section due to a fetal distress during the childbirth, which is not a rare case. Fortunately, the science develops on daily basis and there is an alternative way of giving a birth.
Parenting brings a lot of joy, but also challenges
Stephen get us – me and my husband, into a new era. So many decisions are taken almost daily and as parents we need to know everything in some magic way and to have a formed opinion about everything. How beautiful can life be when it’s complex and full knows the best a “beginner” parent. It was not a long time when we wanted our Stephen to get a sibling. The second pregnancy happened shortly thereafter, and it was the same as the first one, a school example of pregnancy in doctors’ words. The news that I will again become a mother of another son made me especially happy, something like that Coelho’s saying: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
8 weeks before the final term, Andrew decided to come into the world
And so it happened, but sooner than we expected. It was a bit earlier than it was supposed to be … 8 weeks earlier. It was winter, many viruses and diseases were spread in that period, I got sick and I took many medications, I made inhalations, I rested, I even took two weeks of sick leave, but nothing could stop my preterm delivery. That experience is a shock for any mother, a bitter truth of the so-called failure to carry pregnancy to the end. The mother always feels the greatest responsibility (and guilt) for the child it has to bring into the world. Andrew was born with an emergency cesarean section in 32 gestation week. As any prematurely born baby immediately after delivery, he was admitted at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in an incubator. The baby was in good health and breathed independently; these were the first news I was told while I was staying at the Intensive Care Unit postoperatively.
Our first encounter – joy mixed with sorrow, fear and uncertainty and a lot of question marks
My husband was the first one who saw our newborn son and showed me several photos when he first came to visit me in the hospital room. They were photos of a small, rosy baby lying naked in an incubator, nothing disturbing; on the contrary, it was beautiful. We talked about how our two sons Stefan and Andrew are the same, they really resemble one another. Later that day I got up and the first thing I did was to visit my baby. Nothing can prepare you for this act, for that first experience when you enter the Neonatal Intensive Care. It is a bright and noticeably sterile room arranged with incubators, seemingly empty, but on a second look you notice that actually they are not empty. The calming silence is suddenly and in regular intervals interrupted by beeps and sounds from the equipment. Doctors and nurses do their job; one of them waits for you to show where your baby is.
It’s hard to describe that moment. Nobody and nothing can prepare you for that first seeing. Emotions of joy mixed with grief, fear and uncertainty and a lot of question marks. It’s hard to find words to say, and when you finally hear them, it’s not your recognizable voice. It’s like a voice of someone else, as it is happening to someone else, like a scene from a movie. You lose strength in your hands and feet and look for a place to sit down. The nurse, with a smiling face, says positive and reassuring words.
Our little hero
My Andrew was so small and gentle and quietly slept in his incubator. A tube was attached to his small hand for the infusion he was administered and a wristband to the small foot for measuring the concentration of oxygen in the blood. Nothing to worry. The shallow breathing, quite expected in premature babies, normalized in 2-3 days. The therapy that he was administered with the infusion finished and that was it. It remained only to feed our little hero and to gain in weight, in order to compensate the loss in the gestational development.
A team that inspire peace and optimism
The expert team of “Acibadem Sistina”, all the doctors-specialists, nurses, the complete organization and wonderful conditions in this private hospital were inspiring peace and optimism day after day. There are no enough words of gratitude and praise to express our immense pleasure and happiness that we chose “Sistina” Hospital as an institution to take care of our family health. I cannot name anyone, I think it would not be fair, and therefore I refer a huge BRAVO and THANK YOU to the entire team at Neonatal Intensive Care, Neonatology, Pediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics Departments.
14 days at Intensive Care, and then time for home care
There were neither any complications nor any additional measures, other than those for premature births. Andrew’s stay in hospital lasted for 14 days, with two of them being out of the incubator for adapting to the external conditions, and on December 30th, we brought our new member at home. Our Andrew was still very small and fragile and it was necessary to have great care, nursing and attention especially in that first demanding month, but it was worthy. Every sleepless night and every day that can be tough, both physically and psychologically, is worthy. And when your thoughts are mixed up with joy and sorrow, and when you are suspicious in each of your actions and when your eyes are toward the door to go back to the hospital and when you are asleep for half an hour and you wake up frantically with an irrational fear and panic that something is wrong. And when you call the Neonatology Department and ask for an advice on every triviality.
A year later
Andrew’s first birthday is approaching. He is all that a mother can wish for. Cheerful and playful child, always active and curious about the world around him. His brother Stefan is his best companion and member of the family to whom he has the greatest interest. The fight for toys and attention never stops. Our home is always filled with noise and scattered toys, but that’s where we build the most beautiful memories.
Frequent controls, a digital scale that ungenerously shows the progress of your little fighter, but …
You will get acquainted with the fatigue as you never knew before and the days will repeat as every day is the same as the previous. Your days will be filled with feeding, belching and possetting, changing diapers, cramps and crying. Crying with and without any special reason. Short naps and sleep deprivation for weeks and months. Control examinations and that digital scale that ungenerously shows the progress of your little fighter. All this can seem like an endless cycle.
But do not forget …
There is the last time for everything. The day when you will feed your baby for the last time will come. The last time when your baby falls asleep in your arms, the last time when you go back to his room to fall asleep him again for the tenth time that night. The last time when you will change him the diaper, the last time when you’re going to do gu-gu ga-ga remix to hear that contagious baby giggling. The last time when you ask for someone else’s help since you know that now, as a mother, you are the professional person.
The thing is that you will not know it’s the last time. Until there is no next time. And even then, you will need time to figure out.
While going through these days, remember that they are counted and when they end up you will yearn for another day. You will long for another last time.
You are strong, you can, you will walk that path and your premature baby will grow up into a healthy and wonderful person you will be proud of, and you will often know to say: “Look at him now, but when he was born he had only 1.720 grams”.