The NICU Stay
No matter how long your NICU stay, whether it be 5 days or 356 days, it takes an emotional toll on you. Seeing your child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, instead of taking them home from the hospital is an experience you will never forget. It’s terrifying to see your child fighting for their life.
Today, Micro Preemie Monday is a little different, in the fact that we’re not meeting a “Micro” preemie.
Anneliese was born premature, but she was born after 28 weeks and over 2 lbs, unlike most of the other babies that we meet. Her story is still important and full of hope, and I am very honored to be able to share her with you. Just because she wasn’t born quite as young or small as some of the other babies that have been on the blog, this did not make her NICU stay any less scary or heartbreaking for her family.
Her mother, Jessica, is here to tell us their story.
1. Tell us about your baby.
Anneliese Jude (Ana) was born at 35.6 weeks. She weighed 5.7 lbs and was 21 inches long.
2. How long was your NICU stay? What was the hardest part?
20 days. Though our stay seems short compared to most long-term NICU stays, by far the hardest part was the transfer to the Children’s by ambulance for possible ECMO. (From The National Institutes of Health, Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a treatment that uses a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream of a very ill baby. This system provides heart-lung bypass support outside of the baby’s body…ECMO is used in infants who are sick due to breathing or heart problems. The purpose of ECMO is to provide enough oxygen to the baby while allowing time for the lungs and heart to rest or heal.)
3. Do you know what caused your premature birth?
My husband Kurt and I tried for 2 years to get pregnant. I tested ovulation weekly and we would try whenever the smiley face would show up. Sometimes I wouldn’t get any smiley face, but we’d try anyways. This went on for quite a while, one negative pregnancy test after the other. In January of 2014, we decided to go seek treatment/help for not getting pregnant within a year’s time. I made an appointment with a fertility specialist and couldn’t get in till April. In February, we made the bold decision to go to Egypt in July. A week after we got home, I was pregnant. It was the most tremendous feeling in the world. I was carrying a baby, my baby, someone who would depend on me.
Pregnancy was a breeze. I wasn’t nauseous, I ate what I wanted and when I started to show and feel the baby, it was magical. We researched and researched. We planned to breastfeed, cloth diaper, and baby wear. I felt in charge and like I knew what I was in for.
I felt like I did EVERYTHING right in pregnancy. I took my prenatals, didn’t touch sushi, and ate for two. I ended up getting gestational diabetes, but it wasn’t too bad. At my 32 week appointment,my OBGYN had suspicions that I was having some high blood pressure. I played it off like it was no big deal. I wish I would have taken it more seriously. At 33 weeks, she admitted me on a Friday night to the hospital. I was put on magnesium for 24 hours. As soon as the nurse left, I threw up all over the bed. It was horrific. I was contracting a little bit, and they were worried I was in active labor. I received by two painful shots of steroids and was sent home on bed rest. I still wasn’t that worried.
At my next appointment on Monday, I went in and they re-admitted me for high pressure. I spent the next two weeks in the hospital, watching Netflix, finishing up my last Master’s class, testing my blood. I should have napped. They planned to take her at 37 weeks, and then at 36 weeks. On Friday, March 20, I was scheduled with the high risk prenatal doctor for a growth scan. Baby girl was measuring small, IUGR small at 4.5 lbs. My whole world came crashing down. What had I done wrong? I did or tried to do everything right. My OB came in and told me a scheduled c-section would be the best way to keep baby safe. The next day my pressures stayed high all day and they cut her out of me that night. The c-section was easy, I was focused on baby girl and her health. She was perfect and weighing a good 5.7 lbs. There was no meconium and she was crying. We did skin-to-skin as they stitched me up. She kept making the cutest little noises. The stand-by NICU did not think they were cute. I brought Ana back to our room to try to breastfeed for the first time. She was there with me for 3 minutes and then they took her away for her grunting. As the days wore on, she got worse to the point of incubation. On day 4, we were transferred to Children’s Hospital for possible ECMO. They diagnosed her with severe respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, and possible pneumonia. Watching her go by ambulance and knowing the ride alone was very risky was the most terrifying experience of my life. I cut myself off emotionally from my baby. I did not want to get close, knowing that I might lose her.
Once we got to Children’s, they switched all of her med’s and by some phenomenon, she immediately started getting better. 2 days later she was down to cannula, and weaning nitric oxide and oxygen daily. She was such a little pistol which I believe contributed to her fast recovery. Before we knew it the nightmare was over and we took her home to be a family.
Though we were only there for a short time, every NICU mom/parents have their own story that differs from person to person. The one thing we do have in common is that we all went home without a baby…
4. How are you and your baby doing now?
Ana is healthier than ever. We breastfeed and I contribute her health to that as well. We have a developmental pediatrician appointment Nov. 2 and I think she will do fine. She is meeting her milestones on time.
5. What advice would you give to a new preemie parent?
Get yourself some support, whether it’s in the NICU or Facebook. Settle in and start a new hobby if you don’t already have one. Get a trial subscription to Netflix. Rest when you can. If you are pumping, get into the groove and seek out an IBCLC. Ask questions! Question everything, know what’s going on with your baby. Remember that you need to take care of yourself, there are people taking care of your baby.
Thank you again to Jessica for sharing beautiful Ana and their story with us. Please leave any questions or comments, and Jessica will be able to read and respond.
Please remember that any NICU stay is painful and scary, so I hope this post will give parents in a similar situation support and hope.
Angela @ Blooming on a Budget says
What a beautiful story! I am so glad to hear of how strong these babies (and parents) are!
Such a touching story. I knew a couple that had a preemie baby. It is a very difficult time for them, thankfully they had lots of family support. I agree support is the best thing to have and one of the best things to offer!
Christine - The Choosy Mommy says
I was also put on magnesium but I had HELLP Syndrome. That was THE WORST drug. Luckily, I didn’t throw up but I really wanted to. And I totally understand what you mean when you say that you kind of shut down so that you didn’t get too close to your baby in case something happened. I was the same way. I honestly didn’t get in a swing of really wanting to be around him until he was almost 2 weeks old. I was scared for him to be in the NICU and just plain nervous of our future. My baby is doing great now and I am really glad that Ana is doing wonderful now too! NICU/Preemie babies are such fighters!
Jessica Schneckloth says
Magnesium was terrible, and I actually think I was okay on it. As soon as they hooked me up and left, I threw up and peed the bed. I hate being vulnerable. And that’s exactly what I was.
Oh she is just too precious!
Wow, I’m amazed she was still able to breastfeed after all that. I know a lot who just can’t or give up because it is too much with the commute and stress. What a sweet story, glad she is living a normal life now. Such a scary start for her family though.
Jessica Schneckloth says
It definitely was a struggle. We had to use a shield fort he first two months and I was able to wean her off of that. I hated it in the beginning, but glad we stuck with it. I even gave up dairy and soy for 6 months (TOUGH!). Now we are 10 months strong and no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Oh my goodness, she is precious! These stories always touch my heart. I have never heard of ECMO and I can’t imagine the helpless feeling of being transferred like that. So glad she’s so healthy today! What a precious blessing.
Jessica Schneckloth says
ECMO is terrifying. They hook up two large IVs in these teeny babies necks, drain the blood, oxygenate it, and put it back into baby. If they’re on it for too long, the blood starts to clot. It’s used as a last measure and there is a 60% survival rate. It was terrifying.
Wow, beautiful baby.
I’m so glad she’s healthy. It’s so important to get support from others too. I also like the idea of starting a project of some sort. Keeps the mind in a positive place while dealing with things.
Neely (@Neelykins) says
What a sweet girl!! I love that name!
She’s so adorable! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that just because a baby is born over 5 pounds and over 35 weeks, there can still be complications. I’m so glad she’s ok now. I really can’t get over how adorable she is! Thanks for sharing her story!
Jessica Schneckloth says
We thought we were in the clear. I struggled for a long time and still do that I delivered a “sick” baby. It’s a scary thought thinking about having another baby.
I love what she said about asking questions! So important!
I’m always amazed! Everyone is so strong! She is one cute girl! I’m so glad she’s doing great!
Homegrown Adventures says
Ana is such a beautiful baby. I’m so glad she is strong and healthy. I can not imagine not being able to take my baby right away home. 20 days seems long for me. Staying in the hospital for even 2 days is too long for me. So proud of Jessica for nursing her baby. You go mama. 🙂 She surely is a gift from God. Blessings to you Jessica and your family. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Us mamas need to share our stories and let others know that they are not alone. 🙂
Beautiful Baby! I had preeclampsia and had my daughter at 37 weeks. Magnesuim was no. But very thankful that we were both safe and healthy!
Joan Harrington (@joantruesuccess) says
Hi Shann 🙂
Loved this story and oh my goodness is she sweet! A little angel 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂
What a sweet little girl! This is a must read for any family dealing with a NICU stay, be it for a few days, or a few months. Thank you for always sharing such inspirational posts each week!
Healing Mama says
She is so stinkin cute! Thank you for sharing your story.
Wow – what a sweet little girl. Sometimes you can do everything right yet there is so much out of our control. So glad she is so happy and healthy.
Love Peace Beauty says
Thank you for sharing your story with us! Ana is absolutely precious – beautiful family!
What a journey. I’m so amazed by families and mother’s of preemies. Just, wow.
I love seeing the baby pictures. Makes me smile to know she is healthy.
Anamika Ojha says
What an inspiring story of Ana! and hats off to Jessica and all Preemies mom for being strong in such a painful phase of their life. Thanks Shann for sharing another great story from your bucket.
Have a great week ahead!
She’s beautiful!! What a trial you guys had to endure, and I’m so glad you are on the other side of it!
Nicole Herose Cochingco Escat says
Such a beautiful story on How strong you are and your baby. And I’m happy that she is doing well now. She is so lovely and adorable.
What a Beautiful baby girl! She is right, you can Never ask too many questions. I kept a note pad in my purse when I was pregnant to write down random things I wanted to ask. Glad the baby is doing so well now! God Bless
Omg I’m dying over those professional photos!!!! I just love seeing newborn photo shoots!!!!! Such a sweet story 🙂
Corina Ramos (@NotNowMomsBusy) says
Thank you for sharing Ana’s story. It’s so good to see how well Anneliese Jude is doing. Such a beautiful name too. 🙂
Love this story. My little one was also born early at 29 weeks and had a 40 day nicu stay
Hope your little one is doing great now 🙂 Thank you for reading!
Jessy @ The Life Jolie says
So glad to hear how well she’s doing- she’s such a sweetie!
Jessica Schneckloth says
Thank you. She’s the center of our universe.
Ahhhh, how wonderfully refreshing to read and know she is doing well! I had a niece who was born premature as well, and she is doing just as fine! I know I’m responding to a post of yours late, but I didn’t forget so here I am! Thanks for your patience too and support.
Stefanie / The Monarch Mommy says
What a beautiful name! Thank you for sharing her story. Sounds like she’s doing really well!
Stephanie Cox says
This series is a heartfelt reminder of how lucky I am that my baby boy was overdue and didn’t require any special treatment. Such blessing and strong Mommas.
Sandy Mangis says
What a beautiful story. How good are miracles for good people.
Tennille @ Two Kids And a Budget says
What a beautiful little girl and a beautiful family. I’m always so moved by these stories of a families endurance. I’m glad to hear she is doing well now.