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At my 30 week checkup, my fundal height showed me 2 weeks behind. I was sent for an ultrasound which showed baby wasn't growing much. Over the course of the next 4 weeks I was taken off work, underwent 3x weekly NSTs and ultrasounds and all confirmed that while baby was doing okay, he just wasn't growing anymore.
At 34 weeks I was seen by a maternal-fetal specialist who immediately sent me to the hospital. At the hospital I was hooked up to a fetal monitor 24 hours a day. Every day I had an ultrasound. Again, baby was okay, but no longer growing.
On Day 5 of my hospital stay I was induced. After 8 hours of labor my baby's heartrate began to decelerate. I was rushed in for an emergency c-section.
Jack Robert was born on March 22, 2008. He weighed exactly 3lbs and was 15" long. His gestational age was 34w 5d, making him a little over 5 weeks early.
His weight was so low he didn't even register on the growth charts. Three pounds is the average size for a 29 weeker, so Jack stopped growing sometime around then. He was diagnosed with IUGR due to placental insufficiency.
Amazingly, his lungs were developed enough that he was able to breathe room air immediately. He never required a ventilator, caffeine, or any other assistance to breathe. However, because he was so teeny he could not maintain his body temperature.
The first 3 days of his hospitalization he received intravenous nutrition. The neonatalogists were concerned that his gut might be underdeveloped and were very reluctant to feed him by mouth. In the meantime, he was very wiggly and active and pulled the IV out of his hand 3+ times. An IV was then inserted into his head. Here's a pic:
Later on the head IV was removed and he was given a PICC line. The PICC line was very low maintenance and Jack wasn't able to pull it out anymore. Eventually a feeding tube was inserted through his nose and Jack received his very first meal: 1.2ml of breastmilk, pumped by yours truly. He took it like a champ and slowly increased his feeds.
In the meantime his weight slowly - and I mean SLOWLY - crept up. At 2 weeks old he awoke SCREAMING and the nurse on duty wasn't able to identify the cause. He was in a lot of pain until the resident guessed that he had inguinal hernias.
Jack was referred for emergency surgery to repair the hernias. He was anesthetized with a caudal and came through the surgery with flying colors. An hour after the surgery he was crabby and breastfeeding.
After 17 days in hospital Jack was allowed to come home. He was able to breathe, suck, and swallow, and maintain his body temperatures -- the essential criteria for a baby to go home to his family. Here's a pic of Jack getting ready to come home:
I spent every single day in the NICU with him. I'd wake up and drive an hour to the hospital and just sit. I got to bathe him, dress him, change his diapers, and snuggle. We did a lot of skin to skin contact. When he was allowed to come home, it felt like Christmas!
The first month at home was tough. Jack only weighed 3.5lbs when he came home at 2.5 weeks old. By 6 weeks, however, he DOUBLED his birth weight! When he was a newborn by his adjusted age he weighed 6lbs, making him petite, but by no means undersized for a full term baby. Jack had to wear 2 or 3 layers all the time, and a hat to help him stay warm. He even slept in a hat.
As time went on Jack skyrocketed into the normal developmental phases. He amazed me and his dad (of course!) as well as his doctors by showing hardly any delays. He is now one year old and while he's talking a little later than other kids, he has shown no other delays at all. He weighs 19lbs, putting him on the 3rd percentile for weight. His height is on the 50th and his head is on the 75th, meaning that he's really just a skinny kid with a big head.
The biggest lessons I learned as a preemie mom:
1. Babies are tough. They might not look it, but they are strong little fighters. Never doubt your baby's willingness to see another day.
2. Mommies are tough, too.
3. NICU nurses are angels on earth.
4. This will not last forever - your baby WILL COME HOME. One way or another, it will not last forever.
5. Have faith. Faith in yourself, faith in your baby, and faith in whatever else you need.