In 2008, I found out I was pregnant with my first child at the age of 36. My feelings were all over the place and I was questioning if this was the right time to bring a child into the world.
During this time, I was dealing with a lot of stress from personal things going on in my life and what I felt should’ve been one of the happiest times in my life, turned into a wild roller coaster ride. Due to the stress and anxiety, I began to experience so many complications during the pregnancy. I started feeling discouraged and wondered if this
was the right time and pondered whether I waited too long to try and start a family. I spent most of my life trying to check off boxes before trying to have a child – purchase a home, complete my degrees, move up in my career, maybe even get married, etc.…everything I wanted to do before I settled into becoming a mom. But I was beginning to feel like the timing was off.
During my first trimester, I was admitted in the hospital a number of times for various prenatal matters. I had so many scary moments where I thought I had miscarried. I bled the entire pregnancy and even one time so much that I fainted and was rushed to the hospital. After my first trimester, I learned that I had complete Placenta Previa and I
was devastated. I was put on bedrest several times and I had to see a specialty doctor weekly. The doctor visits were becoming more alarming every time I went and it was beginning to be too much. Although they were necessary, it didn’t make for a pleasant pregnancy.
Early one morning I began to experience a funny feeling in my stomach. It wasn’t painful but my body was definitely telling me that something was wrong. I tried to wait to see how long the feeling would continue but after almost 12 hours, I knew I had to call my doctor. She was on call at the hospital and instructed me to come in for observation. What I thought would be a quick trip and back home to my very warm bed turned into a tumultuous couple of weeks in the hospital.
I went from being monitored 24-7, not being able to eat for almost 48 hours to my water breaking at 24 weeks. Visits from the neonatologist and several other doctors informing me that my baby had a 50% chance of making it was heart-breaking. Not to mention, my entire cervix was obstructed and my placenta was blocking and almost suffocating my child in utero. The night I went into labor, an emergency C-section was the only result in saving my life and hopefully saving my unborn child. Not knowing if I would deliver a “live” baby was stressful enough but to find out that depending on how things went in the operating room, I could possibly have to have a hysterectomy and would never be able to have children.
Almost one week later, at 25 weeks exactly, Nina was born at 5:35am, weighing 1 pound and 6 ounces. She came out fighting and breathing on her own but had to be put on a ventilator within an hour. The rollercoaster ride of events and emotions some days were a bit much to handle. Nina spent 89 days total in the NICU but had to be rushed back to the hospital 3 days after she came home for the first time. She was released with an apnea monitor that kept track of her heart rate and breathing.
Early one morning, the monitor went off and she had stopped breathing. Her father gave her CPR while I frantically called the ambulance. We found out that she had hyperthermia and was having a hard time maintaining her body temperature. Not to mention, after several tests, the doctors thought they discovered seizure activity and had to run a number of tests.
During her hospital stay she caught SARS, had stomach issues which caused difficulty going to the bathroom and was gaining weight slowly. I missed only one day of visiting her in the hospital and I would spend every day doing kangaroo care, assisting the nurses with her daily care and journaling my thoughts. I lived 20 minutes from the
hospital and would show up all hours of the night just to be close to her.
Once released from the hospital a second time, she only weighed 4pds. She was still too small for preemie clothes so we didn’t have many choices of clothing. After being home, she began to soar. Her pediatrician, who said he had never seen such a small baby in all of his 40+ years of being a pediatrician and was up for the challenge. His goal was to ease my mind and get this baby the healthiest that he could. Weekly visits to the doctor were exhausting but necessary. She always received special treatment when it was time for a visit because keeping her away from any illnesses was very important. Because of how small she was, he didn’t want to chance her getting sick from the other
kids in the doctor’s office and not being strong enough to fight because of her weak immune system. We almost had to keep her in a bubble for at least the first 3 months of her coming home. We were instructed to only allow her to come out of the house for doctor visits and very limited exposure to family & friends. Following strict instructions,
we began to see progress.
Every week she was gaining weight and was slowly upgraded to have a teaspoon of food and more breast milk. As her appetite grew, so did she. She ended up being one of the chunkiest babies and her progress soared. She was part of the Infant & Toddler program to monitor her progress for at least up to the age of 4, but no longer needed it once she turned 2. She was slightly delayed in walking but began to go to daycare and excelled at almost everything. Life was starting to look promising for her as she began to get older. To the surprise of so many health professionals, she didn’t have any repercussions of being a micro preemie. Her eyesight was perfect, her speech was impeccable and she was learning way ahead of kids her age.
Nina, who is now 14 years old is an aspiring dancer, an honor student and a very tall and social teenager. She loves working with kids and her dream is to become a Child Psychologist and a dancer on Broadway.
A Joyous Journey: Finding Faith Through Fear is a book I wrote rehashing my journey and releasing some of my intimate journal entries that were written to get me through one of the hardest times of my life.