Preemie: Charlotte Bonanno
Gestation at Birth: 28 weeks
Days in the NICU: 137
“A true miracle, and meant to do remarkable things in this world.” – Amy Bonanno
On May 22, 2020 at 9:04 am, Charlotte was born via C-section. She weighed 1 lb., 6 oz. and 12” long.
Entering the delivery room was a bit blurry, but I remember feeling scared…more scared than I have ever felt. Charlotte arrived quickly and then was taken to the NICU. As a mother giving birth to her baby and not being able to see or hold her, well, it is one of the worst feelings you can ever feel. Due to the medications I was on, I was not able to see her until the next day. I remember my husband wheeling me over to her room and seeing her for the first time. I was thinking this is not how it is supposed to be. Why did this happen? She was supposed to be wrapped in some ridiculously overpriced swaddle with a huge bow on her head right now. But, instead, she is covered in wires and tubes. We sat there in silence and cried and just stared at her. She was beautiful and she was here.
We had a long road ahead of us. Honestly, we had no idea what was in store and it was hard. So damn hard. You begin to lose yourself in the process. You just exist and become robotic in a sense. I went to see Charlotte every day. Days when I wanted to hide and cry and just be angry, I didn’t. I got up and told myself “if she can be this strong and fight, so can I.” And I did.
The nurses and doctors would tell me to go home and take care of myself and rest. I would nod and smile. They knew I was ignoring them. After 4 ½ months together they knew the kind of person I was and this mama wasn’t going anywhere. I watched my sweet girl endure what no child should have to. But, she did it. She overcame all the obstacles thrown her way. She did not have any brain bleeds, overcame PPHN and eventually kicked her feeding tube.
After 137 days in the NICU, Charlotte came home. She was on oxygen and a list of medications and breathing treatments, but she was home. And I will be completely honest – It was terrifying!
I had the help of medical professionals and now I no longer did. Where is my monitor? How do I know what she needs? How will I survive this? The next couple of weeks were tough. I was scared to take care of my baby. Was she mine? Did she know I was her Mom? I treated her like a NICU baby. I intervened at the 3 hour “hands on” and marked and measured her volume. I acted like her caretaker, because that is all I knew. I hate looking back at that. I wish I could have enjoyed her the way I was supposed to, or was that even possible? The next couple of months Charlotte got stronger and so did I. She made me a better person. It is such a cliché, but things that I thought mattered became a distant memory. Priorities were different, friendships were different, she became my everything. But I slowly was reminded that I had more than just Charlotte, I had a husband and a home and life to still be a part of. You really lose yourself. I knew I had to figure out how to not only be Charlotte’s mom, but also a wife. I think we all go through this, I slowly began to find the balance, and honestly, I am still working on it. My family is the most important thing and she made us better, she made us a family. The last two and half years have been challenging & hard, but so very worth it. I am reminded how resilient my family is and we can overcome anything together. Charlotte is a beautiful, strong, healthy, and hilarious 2.5-year-old. We are so proud to be her parents and I am so proud to be a wife.
Advice for Preemie Parents:
Find someone who can relate and has a story they are willing to share. I was desperate for someone/anyone to have a similar story and the success of it. I needed reassurance from a Mom who had been there. You WILL get through this. It is definitely going to be hard and super sucky, but it will be worth it. I promise.
Charlotte is 29 months and is checking all the boxes. She was discharged by PT, pulmonology & cardiology. She is not on any meds! She is currently in ST, but hitting her milestones, and up to 25 words! She is petite, but perfect.
You and Charlotte amaze me every day. You are my inspiration and my guide light. Thank you for helping me understand how to be a better, stronger person, husband and father. I love you and Charlotte more than words can ever describe.
Your Story is Great. It brought tears, but God will “never leave or forsake you”. My favorite poem “Footprints in the Sand”. He carried you and your family through. What a beautiful family and thank you so much for sharing. What a story.
I knew what was happy and only imagined what you two and Charlotte were going through. I knew that you had an incredible family to support you three. And a great love. The blessings were supportive love of family and for the little girl with amazing strength which must be in her genes.
I’m blessed by knowing all of the Bonanno family. Charlotte is definitely a cutie pie! Love, hugs and kisses.
Thank you for sharing this💕
What a difficult yet heartwarming story. Charlotte, being a strong girl in her own sense, will realize someday your endurance through this process