Our family friend, Lindsay Owens, has graciously written a guest post about her experience with prematurity and considerations she has now that she's pregnant with number two. Take a moment below to read through her experience and join us on our Instagram as she takes it over tomorrow for World Prematurity Day.
World Prematurity Day by Lindsay Owens
Did you know November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and November 17 is World Prematurity Day? I would assume the answer is no. You would never know about this “special” day or month unless you had a premature baby.
My husband Anthony and I are the proud parents of a two-year-old. Cameron is our first baby and the most amazing toddler in the world (in my opinion ☺). But, we know we are lucky. You would never know he was born at 26 weeks, considered a “micro preemie,” weighing only 2lbs, and spent 94 days in University of Washington Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
My mucus plug came out a week before I went into labor (didn’t know what it was until “the Google” told me). Doc said sometimes that happens and it can grow back (who knew!), and not to worry. However in my case, the plug fiasco was quickly followed by one full day of contractions (definitely thought they were bad cramps), got to the hospital around 5pm and was only dilated to 1cm. We thought, “we’re going to slow this down,” But an hour later I was 4cm, babe was breach, so I had an emergency classical, C section. And at 6:42pm, BAM! Our world changed!
Cameron is the outlier in this situation. Only 20% of all preemies have no long lasting effects and I only came to realize this in the last year or so. I have heard of so many other families that have lost their 26 week preemies or, 26-weekers that have lasting effects of being on a ventilator for a long time or, retinopathy of prematurity and have to wear glasses for their whole lives or, that have tracheostomies, and the list can go on. Cam has none of that, and that is not the norm.
Cam is a stubborn, stubborn kiddo. We think it started in utero. All of his nurses in the NICU joked that he just wanted to be out, exploring, and meeting everyone while still growing. So he made his own decision to pop out early (stubborn like his daddy) to get started being a social butterfly like his mommy. All of these jokes came once we all realized that he was going to be ok and just wanted to be out of me!
Don’t get me wrong, we had our ups and downs. The NICU ride is definitely a rollercoaster. You can show up and all of a sudden you, the parents, have to put on a gown, gloves, and a mask before you see your baby because they found a potential MRSA infection. And a week later, a different kind of infection. My husband and I handled these situations in very different ways. I was optimistic, and wouldn’t freak out until we got the test results back (luckily every time there was a scare, it ended up being nothing). Anthony tended to stew and Google and worry until we got results back.
For me (not for my husband), I think of our experience of having a preemie as something I like to look back on. Because although scary, we got to meet the most amazing people. I still email our nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners, nutritionists, and respiratory therapists. They were an extension of our family for 94 days. People we trusted with our 2lb baby. They knew best. I feel lucky to have met such amazing people. Again, a lot of people do not look back and think this - Anthony is one of them. He talks about how we had the best people at our sides, but doesn’t love to revisit why they were brought into our lives. There is nothing wrong with that! Different strokes for different folks!
All of this brings me to pregnancy number 2! I am due in March with another boy - #boymom! We are so excited, but a lot of different things came with this pregnancy. We have our OB and we have a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist. I have been going into the doctor every two weeks since 14 weeks. At 16 weeks we started at home progesterone injections. I can’t leave Seattle/Tacoma starting at 21 weeks for fear we would get stuck somewhere away from home with another preemie. All of this on top of the underlying anxiety that this dude might decide to join the world earlier than planned.
The biggest issue is that no one knows why I went into labor last time. It was literally spontaneous preterm labor. No explanation. Hence everyone blaming my stubborn, social butterfly!
The progesterone injections are the biggest change thus far. They are supposed to keep my uterus calm. There is a lot of controversy surrounding these injections. The FDA just pulled these injections off the market a month after I got approved through my insurance. They said there is no evidence that it is effective. While on the other side, there is also no evidence that it is NOT effective. If you ask the OB community you will hear support to have progesterone available to women who have a history of preterm birth, because if there is even a tiny chance that it helps prevent premature birth, why withhold it?
I was truthfully terrified of these injections. You read blogs about how painful they are and how long the pain lasts. Yes, it is all to keep your baby safe, so who cares about pain in the grand scheme of things, but I am a wuss! Low and behold it burns for a minute and that is all! We will keep going with these weekly injections until my c-section in March.
So for now,I am hunkered down in Tacoma until March. The docs are heavily monitoring the length of my cervix and the potential for placenta accreta. Which we aren’t going to get into because thus far, I don’t have it, and it is pretty terrifying. Google it if you must! Other than that, we’re just keeping a close eye on how I’m feeling and my aches and pains!
Thus far the only difference with this pregnancy is the aches, pains, and exhaustion that I did not have with Cameron. And I am a whiner! Anthony has put up with most of my whining, but for how much longer, I’m not sure.
Now, we wait. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this little dude keeps cookin’ until the second week of March. Then, it’ll be me and three boys...and we’ll just have to see how that goes!