Before having my second child, I didn’t know much about preemies, and I knew zero about micro preemies. All that would come to mind when I heard the word “preemie” was an adorable teeny tiny baby and clothes small enough to fit a Build-A-Bear. Little did I know that I would be chosen to be a preemie mom with my second child.
I had my first son in February 2008. My pregnancy was normal up until 30 weeks or so when my blood pressure started to creep up. Before I knew it, I was put on bed rest and doing 24 hour urine catches. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. Luckily, we were able to hold off inducing until 37 weeks and my adorable son Noah was born into this world at a small, but healthy, six pounds.
My husband and I always knew we would have another child. I spoke with my OB/GYN about the risks of developing preeclampsia again. She said I did have a higher risk of developing it again, but some mothers don’t have it in subsequent pregnancies so we decided to go for baby #2. After two miscarriages and actively trying for a year, we were very excited to be pregnant again!
From the start, my pregnancy wasn’t an easy one. Early on, I began spotting and had to take progesterone supplements until I hit the second trimester. Then I began developing high blood pressure shortly after. I was put on blood pressure medicine in hopes to keep it under control. Besides my blood pressure being high, everything was fairly normal until my 20 week ultrasound. At that time, it was discovered that the baby was measuring very behind, and I was then referred to a high risk doctor.
My high risk doctor did a panel of blood work (19 vials to be exact, OUCH!) and the results showed that I had a blood clotting disorder but everything else was normal. I was monitored weekly and the baby was growing, but just at a very small pace. I had many ultrasounds, and my doctor was just stumped as to why my baby was so small. The baby had reverse blood flow and was severe IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). Since I knew I’d be having an early delivery, I was given steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs develop.
At 27 weeks and 6 days, after an ultrasound, my high risk doctor decided that day was the day for delivery. Even though I was on bed rest and had repeatedly been told that “any day could be the day,” I was still in complete shock. I didn’t know what to expect and saying I was scared was an understatement. She called my OB at 12:25 p.m. and my micro preemie Liam was born at 1:11 p.m., weighing right under a pound at 15 ounces and measuring 11 inches.
The first few days of our new journey I was beyond myself. I didn’t know what emotions to feel or how to react. I was scared and nervous but so hopeful for Liam. I kept on thinking to myself that God had sent my family a miracle, and we just had to be patient and watch this miracle unfold.
I’m not a patient person and am a total planner, and these traits aren’t good ones to have while being in the NICU. I was told that my best guess of a discharge date would be my due date, which was January 5. The days were long, and the weeks dragged on. If I wasn’t at the NICU, then I was found pumping or taking care of my other son Noah. I think I aged many years during his NICU stay.
Although sometimes those 101 days in the NICU seem like they just happened yesterday, Liam is now 17 months old and my happy, healthy boy brings me so much joy every day. Having my micro preemie opened my eyes up to the thousands of preemie babies born every year and inspired me to become active in helping other preemie moms and their families. I have become dedicated to the March of Dimes and love participating in their annual March for Babies. Last year, Liam weighed in at 8 pounds at the time of the walk; this year, he will be walking alongside his family and friends (well, at least for a small portion!). I can’t wait to see the other preemie babies who walked last year, and I can’t wait to show off the progress Liam has made. The saying “big things come in small packages” may be cliché, but one look at my Liam and you know it’s true!
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Mary is a stay at home mom to her sons, Noah (5) and Liam (1) and has been married to her high school sweetheart Clint since 2007. Mary is a graduate of the University of New Orleans, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism. Her son Liam is a micro preemie, and she is now passionate in the preemie community and the March of Dimes. Mary is also active with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and is a co founder of the VLW Scholarship at her alma mater Cabrini High School in New Orleans, which awards a scholarship yearly in memory of their dear classmate who was killed by a drunk driver. Mary enjoys blogging about her family, New Orleans and all things preemie related on her blog at Micropreemie Mom.