And so, I’ve started and deleted this post over 3 times – My journey as a NICU Mom.
My husband and I always discuss this, we are just parents, not preemie parents. But, we have to face the fact that we are different, and different is ok. This journey has brought us to this beautiful new place in our lives that would have never existed. I have met the most amazing people; the ones who saved my son’s life, and also special ones who saved mine.
I was half way through my pregnancy (so I thought), and we went for my ultrasound. It wasn’t until the doctor came in and stared at the screen... for a long time, that I knew something was wrong. And then he said, “Your baby will be born early”. I asked, “Well how soon?” I thought ok, ok we can handle this. Our first son was born at 36 1/2 weeks. He responded, “Within days”. My heart sank. I looked at my husband and we both burst into tears. He said he already set up my surgery at main campus across town and to go immediately. We arrived, and the doctor examined me to see if I could have an emergency stitch placed (cerclage) and said, “I can see your baby”. Not something you want to hear at 20 weeks.
But, I got through it. I came home. I held my 2-year-old tight. And I meditated in the fact that this may be the only days I get to spend with my baby. Even if the only time we were together, was him inside of me. I was so scared. 5 weeks passed- and then it happened- I was getting in bed and I felt a trickle. And it didn’t stop. I knew it. My water broke. I called my Doula and we headed to the hospital. It was confirmed and then I was put in an ambulance (no bags packed) and headed to the main campus as my husband dropped our son with our neighbor and rushed to meet me. Ugh. That ambulance ride. Without my family, leaking fluid and just telling my baby “Please stay in. Please stay in.”
As I’m writing this- it’s still surreal. It’s crazy. But this was our life. I’m crying as I read it over. I’ve told my story before, mostly through images I share on social media with snippets of my story- never the whole story.
We arrived at the hospital, and after hours, the bad news was in fact my water did break, the good news was I wasn’t in labor and my stitch holding my baby in, was indeed, still holding my baby in! So now what? And I can remember this like it was yesterday- the doctor was sitting on the edge of the pullout bed my husband was on and we just stared at each other and every few minutes we would take turns shrugging our shoulders at one another.
So, I lived there. My husband and son were at home and I was 45 minutes across town living in the hospital. They would come for breakfast and I would read my son books and was brought my work (I’m an artist). It was all very scary and just so sad, but the fact that I had my art work, I kind of treated it as my studio time and focused on listening to my body and staying in tune with my baby as I embroidered. As hours passed, then days, then 3 weeks, I was still pregnant. My doctor said, “Let’s shoot for 28 weeks and the rest is icing on the cake.” It’s like my son heard that and was like, “Ok, I’m ready now!”.
I birthed my son Huckleberry Caelan Hendry at 28 weeks, 2 days on May 17, 2016. The room was calm, full of joy and pure happiness. As most people would be full of fear, we had over 8 weeks to come to peace that maybe that was all the time I would have with my son. Instead, there he was- all 2 pounds, 14 ounces of him. We knew it would be a long journey, but he was here and alive. We were so lucky.