Preparing for a Preemie

 

dsc_0022Nothing is ever guaranteed in pregnancy – this is a theme that’s been prevalent in my current pregnancy.  I went into it knowing it was going to be difficult but thinking that I’d be able to power through.  I had dreams of working to at least 34 weeks and working on the floor as a nurse.  As I had to make more and more adaptations to my work I was more and more discouraged with just how hard this pregnancy was right from the start.  All my dreams of being an active healthy pregnant lady went down the drain.  Then with my admission in early December I got a huge wake up call – it was time to wake up to reality and start really playing it safe.  All my fears came rushing to the surface – not working (monetary stress and fear) and a probable preemie.  Although nothing is guaranteed there is a HUGE probability that I am going to deliver this little one early.

I’m a typical Type A person – I need organization, structure and preparation to feel sane.  Realistically preparing for a baby doesn’t really require as much as some might have you believe.  Make sure you have a place for it to sleep, diapers and a few simple outfits (think onesies and sleepers), a few swaddle blankets and one or two warm blankets, one or two warm hats, a carseat, if you are going to bottle feed – a few bottles.  That’s really it for essentials, if you can’t afford anything else those few items will get you through for a while.  Of course there are other things that will make your life easier – if you are going to breastfeed (or try to) a nursing pillow, nursing bras and tanks, an infant chair/bouncer, a carrier, a stroller, a change table, a baby monitor, a breast pump – and really the list could go on and on.  Although we own most of the essentials I began dreaming of how I would prepare for this babe right from the beginning.  Where will it sleep? Will we transform the nursery? What kind of decor should we get? Are there things that need to be done throughout the house? When should I start stocking the freezer?

Then at 24 weeks I was facing the likelihood of having a premature baby and all my thoughts of preparation changed.  Do I rush to finish my entire to do list? But now I literally can’t do half of it because I’m on modified rest.  Is it necessary to get it all done?  Truthfully whenever this baby is born chances are it’s not coming home until mid-March at the earliest anyways.  So I don’t necessarily need to have everything all set up and ready to go but I WANT to have it all set up and ready to go.

So there are things standing in my way of going all preparation crazy and I’m making myself get used to the idea that it absolutely does not need to all be done now.  In fact some of it would be much easier to do after the baby is born and I am able to be up and moving much more.  It’s just that my Type A personality wants it all done NOW! I’m learning more and more that it’s good for me to have to relax that part of my personality.  Still I want to do something – anything to feel maybe a tiny bit prepared.  I think part of it is a desperation to distract myself from the fear of having a preemie.  Although we are getting farther and farther away from the scary preemie days I know from having a 36 weeker intubated in the NICU that it doesn’t matter when this babe is born the scariness doesn’t leave until that babe is home safe and sound.  So much of my preparation has been mental, emotional and spiritual.  A lot of people comment on how calm I’ve been since this all started and I suppose I am pretty calm about it, for the most part I have a HUGE faith in our medical system and even more than that I have a HUGE faith in my God.  This babe is a miracle in every way possible and this babe has a huge story to tell and it’s unfolding even now in my womb.  More than anything I trust that regardless of what happens there is a testimony of God’s greatness that is wrapped up in this tiny life and I trust that God will bring this babe earthside safely.  Yet in the midst of my calmness, hidden in the deepest parts of my is this huge fear, and it’s not necessarily a fear for my little one’s life but a fear of what life will look like.  How much time will I realistically be able to spend in the NICU with this babe? With Ezekiel I spent almost 12 hours a day at his bedside, but now with him at home as a toddler I know that I can’t do that with this little one.  It’s true I have my mom at home to help with E but my heart will be torn to be away from either of my babies and I know there will be heartache.  I know that while I’m at the NICU I’ll be worried about how Ezekiel is doing.  I also know that while I’m at home I’ll be worried about what’s happening with babe in the NICU.  It just seems like a lose-lose situation and so I’m trying to prepare my heart and mind for the difficulty of it all.

Yet even as I try and prepare my heart and mind I still want to PHYSICALLY prepare for this baby.  Maybe it’s a need to make this all real, to have a physical token that this baby is coming as a preemie or not and so there are a few things I’ve done (and my mom) to prepare.  First I packed a hospital bag – pathetic that I didn’t have it done before but I procrastinated and maybe that’s a bit of denial creeping in.  But a couple hospital stays and multiple misunderstandings of what I needed with my husband and I realized that life would be simpler with a hospital bag.  I’m still working on a couple things but I’ll do a whole post dedicated to my bag – because we all know the internet needs yet another hospital bag post!  Another thing I came up with is asking my mom to make little preemie hats and mittens.  If this baby is born anytime soon it’s not going to be wearing any clothes for a few weeks but it will definitely need hats and mittens.  The NICU will provide those but when my first was in the NICU we would often come in the mornings and find him in pink mittens and hats! I didn’t care so much but my husband still talks about it to this day and it still bothers him, so to guarantee that doesn’t happen again I went and picked out some yarn and my mom is making a few different variations of hats and mittens.  I won’t pack a bag for baby until I hit 35 weeks when the possibility of it being able to come home/wear clothes is bigger.  I will get my pump and pumping accessories sterilized and ready, making sure I have everything necessary for when I come home.  I’m going to try and have some healthy snacks stocked in the freezer to grab and go each day to the NICU.  Beyond that there’s just not much else I can do to prepare right now and as hard as that is, I’m becoming more and more ok with it.

Any tips and tricks for a preemie mom on how to prepare? What about just preparing for a baby in general? I’d love to hear them!

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