PREEMIE FACTOIDS

Did you know that over 450,000 babies are born premature in the United States every year? And 15,000,000 worldwide. Because of their early arrivals preemies are more susceptible to a myriad health issues including apnea, PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis ) and RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome ). But technology and science continue to evolve. In fact, a preemie born today has a much greater chance at survival compared to only 10 years ago.  Keep checking back for more factoids.

Kangaroo Care...Then and Now

There has been so much in the news lately about the benefits of Kangaroo Care.  I think all of us “seasoned” preemie parents understand this and have seen firsthand the benefits.  I know that we were told that skin-to-skin contact would help stabilize the baby's heart rate, regulate his body temperature and help with my milk production!  We experienced all of those benefits.  I know that the 12+ hours I spent every day for almost 3 months holding him skin-to-skin helped him - and me.  There have even been stories about how a baby was born and presumed dead and they put that baby on his mother's chest and he lived.  Not only did they live, but thrived!

I type this as my preemie – my 12 year old, young man, but still will always will be my baby – is laying in a machine having an MRI.  We've been here before.  After his surgery in October, they are concerned about some things in his hip.  They used words like “necrosis.”  I, of course, did what you are never supposed to do when you have a medical issue.  I Googled it.  Do you know what necrosis means?  Bone Death.

I know the chances of things still being wrong in there are small, but I hate this.  I hate when there is something wrong with him.

Why did I start this out talking about Kangaroo Care?  Because I wanted to scoop him up and lay him on my chest (although he is almost as big as me at this point), and make everything ok. 

It's our job, as parents.  We are supposed to keep them safe.  And when things happen where there is a possibility that something is wrong or they aren't safe, we freak out.  Well, I do.  I remember being in that NICU – kangarooing him fixed almost everything – as stressed as we were, there were moments where I could get lost in that time with him.  It even lasted past the NICU.  When he was teething after he was released from the NICU, and he was so uncomfortable, I remember holding him and he just put his face into my chest.  I remembered our kangaroo care.  I took my shirt off, stripped him down to his diaper and rocked him and all was right in the world. 

Why can't we do that now??

Well, for one, we'd look weird.  And I can already hear “MOM!  What in the heck are you doing!?!?”  Can you imagine?  Oh my.  That's a funny picture.

The buzzing, bumping and clicking of the MRI machine I hear through the door is just about enough to send me over the edge.

 

After all is said and done and tests are reviewed by the doctors, we found out that there is no bone death and he is actually being released to full activities – as tolerated.

I finish this post as we hit the anniversary of bringing him home – after his due date.  I always mention that we came home after his due date.  They always say to expect to be in the NICU until “around” your due date.  We were there from mid-November until the end of January.  We were told that he “might even be home by Christmas!”  We weren't.  I know how hard it is to get caught up on going home, but I promise you, your NICU stay will be a blip on the radar.  Only a tiny piece of your story.  So much is still unwritten.  Your story has yet to be told and the NICU is only part of it.

Its a little like coming full circle (again).  I can remember so many things about that day and the days leading up to that spectacular day.  He had passed his car seat test, had no A's or B's, was off of oxygen and ng tubes.  I had spent the night with him in the hospital, sans monitors (and it was lovely...the first time we had ever been alone...and quiet).  I remember our Primary Nurse, Susana, who had been with us for the entire emotional roller coaster of our NICU stay.  But there is something about those words "You can go home today!" that are both terrifying and exhilarating.  I had watched several other families get the same news and leave.  It was beautiful to watch.

Now it was our turn. It was the end of January, 2004.  It was soooo cold.  He had never been outside in all those months.  We covered his little car seat to make sure that the bitter Chicago air didn't bite him in the face.  We drove away from the hospital and the images are like slow motion in my memory – like the end credits to a movie.  I think I even looked back at the hospital (you know, that dramatic turn to watch the hospital get smaller and smaller in your view.  Yea, that's how I remember it – who knows if I actually did that, though) We drove away from that place he (we) called home all those months...we're going home now.  We also have video of that and if I knew how to post it here, I would.  Our boxer dog, Max, was waiting for us.  We read all sorts of things on how to introduce pets to new babies (after all, we had SO MUCH time to learn about this) and Max had months of smelling the clothes that we brought home to be washed, so Max knew his scent.  I went into the house first (and we actually video taped him...yes, video TAPED....there were no camera phones yet...it was an actual video camera) and we saw Maxxy watching us come in from the front window.  We set the now filled car seat on the coffee table and just let him sniff.  Meet your new brother. 

New preemie parents, Kangaroo those babies.  Allow your baby's nurses to help you learn how to get them out of their isolettes and then you can do it on your own.  There is a reason why real Kangaroo pouches are only so big – I of course googled that too.  Baby Joeys only stay in their mother's pouches for 8 months.  But I bet there are days they too wished they could put that babe right back in there.  DO lots of skin to skin for as long as your baby allows.  And even when they are bigger – almost as big as you – hold them.  They need it just as much as you do.

 

 

Beth is the mom of 3 children. One preemie and two full termers. When she is not helping others through her Little Bear Foundation work, you can find her on the sidelines of a football field, basketball court, baseball field, soccer field or even an ice rink cheering on her amazing children.