Going to Term
Is it possible to have a full term baby after giving birth to a preemie? Many women ask this question often, and the answer is not always clear.
Each pregnancy is different, and reasons for a premature birth are different too. Some conditions happen only once, while others are a risk for every pregnancy. For example, the reason I had my twins early, would not happen if I had another baby….unless it was identical twins again! Even then, I still might have a chance to go to term.
Even so, having a premature birth even once may be enough reason to not take a chance on another pregnancy. The mother’s health might be at risk, and the pregnancy might be high-risk. Plus, the NICU.
I’m not sure I could handle it again.
But, many families do. They will brave any risk to add to their family.
The best way to figure out if you can go to term with a baby after a premature birth is to talk to your doctor. While they might not have a definite answer, they certainly can give you the best advice.
While today’s story is about an amazing micro preemie, it also brings hope to families wanting to expand their family after a premature birth. Please meet Violet, as told by her mom, Tessa.
1. Tell us about your baby.
Violet was born on June 18, 2015 by emergency C Section at 28 weeks 6 days. She weighed 1 lb 15 oz.
2. How long was your NICU stay? What was the hardest part?
65 days. My husband and I both work in education, so luckily she was born right after school got out for the summer, and came home just before it started up again.
What was the hardest part?
All of our family and close friends lived at least 4 hours away, so for much of our NICU journey we didn’t have a lot of in-person support. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, pumping every 3 hours for a baby I couldn’t hold more than a few hours a day.
Another hard thing was watching all the parents from the nearby Birth Center getting to take their nice, healthy babies home. It was like a stab in the heart every time we left for the day and shared an elevator with those happy families. However, we were lucky that Violet was so surprisingly stable and healthy in the NICU. Aside from slow weight gain and a temporary blood sugar issue, she never had any real complications. We were always reassured that she would be coming home with us down the road.
3.Do you know what caused your premature birth?
Violet was my first pregnancy. I had previously experienced slightly high blood pressure, and wasn’t in the best shape.
Around 15 weeks, I was put on medication, but it kept creeping up and they would raise my dosage. The baby started to measure 2-3 weeks behind, and at my 28 week checkup they started to mention the possibility of delivering early.
I started kick counts, and a few days later I noticed decreased movement. I went into the ER, thinking maybe I would get put on bed rest. They monitored us overnight, and while the baby had been moving okay, by the morning she was having significant heart deceleration and they said she was going to do better out than in.
We were in shock.
I was awake during the surgery, and I remember not really knowing when she was out because I didn’t hear a cry. She was breathing on her own, though, and after they assessed her and bundled her up, they brought her to me for the briefest of kisses. I told my husband to follow her to the NICU, and once I was recovering in my room I had to start pumping.
Talk about a whirlwind!
4.How are you and your baby doing now?
Violet is now about to turn 3 and is doing fantastic! She started Birth to 3 services very early on, and is about to graduate from the program with only a few fairly minor delays in motor skills.
She had Stage 1 ROP that resolved soon after discharge. She does have asthma, and uses a nebulizer daily. She’s on the smaller size, but no one would think she was under 2 lbs at birth!
She loves to read (we literally have hundreds of kids books – I try to sneak some into storage but she always finds them), explore our backyard, and sing. Violet loves being a big sister to 8 month old Sloane (our 9 lb “termie”), and is just an utter delight.
What effects did this journey have on you? Your family?
We will probably always have a bit more anxiety about Violet’s health and development, but mostly it just made us not take anything for granted. Nearly 3 years later, our NICU experience is behind us but will always be a part of Violet’s story.
5. What advice would you give to a new preemie or NICU family?
Common NICU advice is that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so self-care is crucial to making it through. It’s so hard, but making time for a walk every once in a while or coffee with a friend can do wonders for your mental health. Also, it can be overwhelming to try to answer all the well-meaning messages and offers of help. I had a co-worker offer to organize meals for us, and in the early days, we had a few people act as communicators for us, they kept our wider circle updated on everything.
Also, take advantage of your NICU team! The therapists can give you ideas of things to do at home to support development, and the social worker can help you apply for special funding and services, and get you hooked up with all kinds of resources.
Thank you so much to Tessa for sharing sweet Violet with us. I’m so happy to hear about your term birth, and Violet looks like an amazing big sister.
Please leave any supportive comments or questions below.