Yesterday when I saw FMS Photo a Day prompt – Then & Now, it took me all of two seconds to decide what my photo would be. Those of you who know me, or have seen my photo on instagram will know that our two beautiful boys both arrived early – Liam at 30 weeks & 6 days and Aiden at 32 weeks & 1 day (as a premmie parent all those extra days sure do count!!!). We are incredibly lucky to have two healthy boys, Liam is now 21 months old, and Aiden will be 5 months old this Sunday.
It is such an overwhelming experience having a prem baby – even if you think you are prepared for it, as we were prior to having Liam. I spent 6 weeks in hospital before he was born, had visited the NICU, spoken to lactation consultants re: how to express/feed a prem baby, knew what would happen at his birth, understood he would probably require help breathing (despite the cocktail of drugs I had taken to help mature his lungs) and was educated about the ‘typical prem health issues’. Each week I would check the handout I had been given by the neonatologist outlining the improving survival/disability rates for each week of gestation, and watch the odds slowly improve each week – but when he arrived at 4.12am on the 11th of January 2012, all of that preparation and information went straight out of the window.
We were thrown into a world that revolved around weight gain/loss, feeding tolerances, oxygen saturation levels, heart rate and breathing monitors, and of course – expressing! Liam was five days old before I was able to hold him for the first time, even then when his condition had stabilised, we still had to ask permission and seek assistance to hold our own baby and take him out of his humidicrib. The day he graduated to a ‘big boy cot’ was one of our happiest days, we no longer had to ask permission or for help to hold him!
During this time we received a mountain of support and advice not only from the wonderful midwives at the Mater Mothers Hospital, but also from organisations such as Life’s Little Treasures, PIPA (Preterm Infants Parents Association) and Lil Aussie Prems – all of which helped us survive the NICU/SCN journey. I found the online parent forums really helpful and also comforting to read in those lonely hours during the night when I was expressing.
When it became apparent that Aiden was also going to make an early arrival, the knowledge and experience we had gained from Liam’s journey was invaluable. With every gain he made, we knew it was inevitable there would be a couple of steps backwards – as is the life of a prem (in Aiden’s case it was being diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease at 12 days old and going back onto Oxygen).
Just looking back at the early photos when picking then out for the photo challenge, it bought back a flood of memories from the constant beeping and alarms of monitors, to the smell of antiseptic as you walked out the lift doors.
This Sunday our family is participating in the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation Walk for Prems. This charity provides a wealth of support and information to families and friends of premature babies. I am proud to say we will be walking together as a family of six – we will be walking not only for Liam and Aiden, but also their big sister Amber and brother Riley, who were also born prematurely and sadly did not survive. We will be walking for all of the premature babies and their families out there and hope we are able to raise much needed funds to support these families during this tough time.
Sending lots of love to all the families with a baby in nicu/scn xx
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT