This is something very near and dear to my heart! World Prematurity Day is a day to spread awareness of the large amount premature babies born each year. Some babies have lost their lives due to being born too early, others have had major medical issues, and others are able to fight their way to health. This day was created by March of Dimes, a company dedicated to helping prevent preterm labor.
Three years ago this September, my son was born 6 weeks early. I definitely consider myself lucky, since we were only in the NICU for 9 days, but those were the longest 9 days of my life! I think that may people don’t think it can happen to them, like anything else, but any woman, no matter if you have already had full term babies, can be at risk for a preterm baby.
I want to spread awareness to ALL women out there, both expecting and not expecting, because pregnancy is a very serious thing! Women have so much pressure on them to be great at work, to look great, not slow down even when they are pregnant, and even to go back to work so soon after they had their babies when their bodies haven’t even had enough time to heal! I do not think that women have it fair when it comes to having children. When it comes to working, I think there should be a “no questions asked” policy on if a pregnant women needs to work from home, or take time to go to appointments, or deal with any issues she needs to deal with. I also think that women should have 3 months paid maternity leave. Creating another human is the single most amazing thing, and I think women should be praised for it so much more than they are.
Ok….I will get off my soapbox now!!!
I want to share with you a bit of what happened to me, in the hopes that it can help even one women out there. When I was pregnant with my first baby I worked as a hair stylist, so I was on my feet for hours each day. There was a lot of pressure on me to be busy (of course), and not to complain. Many friends, including my sister-in-law, had easy pregnancies where they felt great, nothing slowed them down, etc. I wasn’t sick in my first pregnancy (like I am now with my second), but I will say that I really struggled with how my body felt. I had lots of aches and pains. I may have been an “emotional pregnant lady,” but I felt that every time I “complained,” or I was tired, hungry, needed to sit, etc, that I was being judged by friends, family, co-workers, and anyone around. I was so worried about being the annoying pregnant lady, that I over-worked myself, I did everything that was asked of me, I tried to be “fun” all of the time, and I ended up putting myself, and more importantly, my own baby at risk!!
I traveled way too close to my due date, because that is when my mom had planned a shower for me. Please note, anyone planning a shower or if you are pregnant and someone is planning a shower for you, don’t have it any later than 7 months. The pregnant lady is miserable and large, and doesn’t want pictures. So, before I left for my trip to Michigan (at 8 months), I went to my doctor, who had no reason to worry about me before, but I told her how uncomfortable I was, so she did an ultrasound, and saw that my baby was “really low.” She was hesitant to let me travel, but told me to make sure to take it easy and listen to my body. I traveled to Michigan, went to my shower (which was beautiful), and then came back to continue working at the salon.
I had some very long days working on my feet right after traveling, so I closed my books one day to stay home. Well, the day I decided to stay home, a bunch of the things I ordered for the baby’s room came, and I spent the entire day in a hot apartment with no AC, overworking myself to put these things together. I started to have lots of pressure and even I started feeling contractions, but since it was my first pregnancy I didn’t really know what contractions felt like. They became so consistent that I got an app on my phone to time them. I went into work the next day, which also happened to be my last day and my birthday….so I had to go! On the way to the salon, I was actually timing my contractions, or at least what I thought were contractions, and they were about every 5-7 minutes. They were not super strong, so I didn’t think anything of it. When I got to work, I was extremely uncomfortable. One of the girls that I worked with looked at me, and said “you look terrible” which was exactly how I felt. I told her about my contractions, and she flipped out!! She made me call my doctor, but I was trying to not be that pregnant lady that over-reacted about things! Well, when I called my doctor they really put things in perspective when they asked about my baby and how much he was moving and kicking. THAT single moment made me realize that IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!!!! It is about this tiny human I am responsible for!
To make a long story even longer, I got to the hospital, and I was indeed in labor. I didn’t have a birth plan, I didn’t have a pediatrician, I didn’t have a bag packed, I hadn’t taken a breastfeeding class! I was going to do all of these things when I was on maternity leave. Another note to pregnant women, they will tell you to wait till 8 months to do classes, find a pediatrician, etc….. do NOT wait that long. Get it done around 6 months before you are too uncomfortable to do it. They say you will forget the information…tell them your middle finger is itchy.
Sooooo…I got the epidural that I didn’t want to get, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. It slowed down my labor, and I was able to get two shots of steroids, which was what helped my son’s lungs develop. I was so scared for the moment when he was able to come out (35 hours later), because she said I could hold him right away if he was breathing ok, but if he wasn’t, the NICU team (which was ALL in my room at the time) would need to take him. Well, I was able to hold him!! The single greatest moment of my life. Then they had to take him to the NICU.
So, during this entire labor process I began to bloat like crazy. Now, I’m not talking about eating some fries and your fingers get puffy. I’m talking about my hands being so puffy that they couldn’t even find my veins, and they looked like boxing gloves. You couldn’t see my ankle bones, my thighs were double in size, I had water coming out of my epidural hole which they were worried about being spinal fluid since the specialist said in his 2o years of working at the hospital he has never seen. So I ended up getting treated for preeclampsia after labor, aka high blood pressure. The problem with this….I couldn’t go see my baby in the NICU for 24 hours! They couldn’t bring him to me, and I couldn’t go see him. We were both being treated. Talk about the WORST 24 hours of my life.
This picture was just the beginning…
Believe it or not, this is the short version of the entire story! There is so much more to go into detail about, but to sum up, having a baby in the NICU is the scariest thing to ever happen to me. Seeing this poor little human that just entered the world from his nice, warm, cozy uterus, to having tape on his face, and a tube down his belly…..miserable.
So I say to you women, anyone and everyone who is reading, please stand your ground! When you are pregnant, don’t overdo it, don’t try to please people, don’t try to be “the cool pregnant lady” that everyone loves, because if you are feeling terrible, then you could actually be doing more harm than good. Please make yourself aware of the red flags that could mean preterm labor….and put you and your baby first.
Please please please go to the March of Dimes website to learn more, and talk to your doctor about what you need to be aware of to prevent preterm labor.
I am happy to say I have a very healthy and happy 3 year old son!