Preemie Story – February 2023

Preemie: Jonathan Pla
Gestation: 31 weeks
Days in the NICU: 45
Preemie Parent: Diane Rodriguez

“My son was a gift from God. He was my little miracle, and he made me believe in myself.” – Diane Rodriguez

Preemie Story:

Becoming pregnant at eighteen was not part of the plan. My boyfriend and I had just broken up, and the dream was to move to NY and attend a Community College. I wanted to go into hospitality or become a photographer. Life got rerouted. I found out I was pregnant when I was two months, then I kept it a secret for another month…I was so scared that I would be judged.

Once my family found out, they were in shock but they were very supportive. My best friend gave me some great advice, “sign up for college, study, work hard and just keep moving forward.” I was a senior in high school, and I felt so lonely. While all my friends were having fun their last year, I was wondering how I was going to raise a child on my own.

I went into early labor. I was 31 wks. I arrived at the hospital and I was already 7cm dilated! My son was ready to see the world.

My son was taken to the NICU and intubated. He had a nasogastric tube in his nose and he had monitors for his heart. I went to visit him at the NICU. I did not know what to expect, I was so anxious. The nurses were so kind, they explained everything to me. Once he became more stable I was able to do Skin-to-Skin, I bathed him, took his temperature, and changed his diapers.

While he was in the NICU, I developed postpartum blues. All I wanted to do was stay home and sleep. The nurses told my mom that my son needed me. My mother took me to the doctor and I started feeling a little better. I knew my son needed me, he gave me the energy to live. I remember the day I discovered what it meant to be a mother. I went to visit him, and he was lying in the incubator crying and fussing. I looked at him and asked him “what do you want?” I reached my hand inside and grasped his fingers, he held my hand, his tears stopped, we both connected at that moment.

I was able to take my son home after 6 weeks. I started Community College. I wanted to become a Registered Nurse, and I wanted to make a difference in the way the nurses that cared for my son made a difference in my life. It was not easy being a young single mom, it came with challenges and benefits. The journey was fun, my son and I grew together, and I was young and full of energy. I became an RN. I worked as a pediatric nurse, NICU and ER nurse. I went on and got my Masters’ in Nursing Education. I am now an Instructor at a Nursing School.

Advice for Preemie Parents:

My advice to NICU parents is: Do not be afraid. Become familiar with the NICU staff, the nurses, doctors, social workers, and other important staff. It is a great idea to be present when the doctors make their rounds so you can ask questions about your baby’s progress. Do not be afraid of your baby, become familiar with your baby’s care. Ask the nurses questions, they love to teach. Make sure to incorporate nurturing touch daily, skin-to-skin, foot and hand massages are all so important, they are great for bonding and the baby’s development. The most important thing is to ask for help if you are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, or tired. Sometimes people do not realize what you are going through so do not be afraid to reach out.

Jonathan Today:

Jonathan is now 22 years old and he received his Associates in filmmaking. After he graduated, his dream was to have his own business. He worked hard; networking and learning for free to get as much experience as possible.

The hustle, opened doors for him and opportunities. He now has his own business, he has his own clients that he provides editing and filmmaking. He is always learning new things in his field, signing up for courses and getting certificates. He is a healthy, smart, and wise young man. I am very proud of him!