We knew the birth of our baby would have an element of surprise, but we never imagined that the surprise would be welcoming our new addition 12 weeks early. On Thursday January 26 I was admitted to the hospital with pre-eclampsia. Four days later on January 30 I gave birth via emergency c-section, and we finally met our little girl Olive. It was an incredibly difficult five days leading up to it, and her birthday was the scariest day of both of our lives. The experience rocked us to our cores, but we are proud to introduce you to our teeny tiny micro preemie.
Weighing in at a whopping 1 pound, 9 ounces, Olive was born at 10:32 p.m. on January 30, 2012. Nobody even told us whether we had a boy or girl. The only comment from the doctor was “baby’s out, baby’s small,” and she was whisked away to a room next door where the five person NICU team worked on her. We didn’t hear a cry or even get a glimpse of her. Twenty five minutes later when she was stable, Dain was allowed to go see her. He had to ask whether we had a boy or a girl. He took a few pictures and brought them back to me in the operating room where I got my first glimpse of her. I was in shock and so grateful that she was alive since a baby born at 28 weeks is hard to fathom before you see it. Then Dain traveled with her and the NICU team over to her hospital through an underground tunnel. After he was comfortable leaving her, he came back to get me, and Dain and two nurses wheeled me over in my bed to see her. It was indescribable to see such a perfect tiny human being lying in her incubator. They only let me stay for a few minutes before I was taken back to my hospital, but I will certainly never forget meeting Olive for the first time.
Our NICU experience had begun. Dain slept in Olive’s room there, and my mom slept in my room with me in a special wing of the perinatal floor. Not that any of us actually slept with all of the activity around us, but morning was welcome since it meant I got to see her again. The next few days are almost a blur as we began to fall into our new “normal” as a family of 3. Our days have been and will continue to be spent in Olive’s room. She is a fighter, and everyone says she acts like a bigger baby than she is, which is a big compliment for our little lady who is fiesty with the nurses. We have a long road ahead of us with plans to be here in the NICU until at least her due date (April 23), but we are optimistic about her future. Now that we’ve had a chance to catch our breath, we wanted to share a few of our first special moments with her and ask for your thoughts and prayers as we embark on this long journey.
On Thursday February 2 I was able to hold her for the first time as part of her “Kangaroo Care.” I could feel her heartbeat throughout her entire body, and it was the best moment I’ve had with her to date. The next day Dain was able to hold her, and she even drooled on him and grasped his chest hair with her tiny fingers.
At the nurse’s suggestion, we put Dain’s wedding ring around her foot (after it was sanitized) to show the scale of how tiny she is. It’s pretty unbelievable that it slips over her foot.
As is common with micro preemies, she was jaundiced at first so she lived under photo lamps for a few days. She didn’t seem to mind it too much though because she got to wear a sleep mask to protect her eyes which made it easier for her to sleep. Since moments of levity are what is keeping us both sane, we joked that she looks like she is about to hit the slopes. Or that she’s a future rap star.
While she’s too little to eat any way other than through her feeding tube, she does get to taste breast milk during her feeding through a little q-tip that we dip in it and rub around her mouth. And she loves it. She has even started to suck on the q-tip.
We also get to help care for her by changing her diaper and checking her temperature. Dain had no idea his first diaper change would be with such a small diaper, but he is becoming a pro at it. Hopefully his enthusiasm for diaper changes continues as she grows.
We have completely turned into “those parents,” and we will probably have hundreds if not thousands of pictures of her by the time we leave here. But it’ll be fun to watch her grow. Both Dain and I feel incredibly blessed to have this sweet baby in our lives. And she was worth it all. We are so grateful for her and for all of the incredible family and friends in our lives that are helping to make this journey easier every day.
We’ll post more about it, but the Ronald McDonald House has been a godsend for us over the past week. If anyone is looking for a way to support us, please consider donating to your local Ronald McDonald House. The services they provide are truly invaluable for families who have hospitalized children.