The women in my family have a habit of giving birth to preemies the first time around. Last year I had my mom share her story about her first son, born 12 weeks too soon with a diaphragmatic hernia. Over the time I’ve had this blog, I have shared my story about my first son, born 7 weeks early with an intracranial hemorrhage. Today, in honor of World Prematurity Day, my younger sister Renee has agreed to share the story of her preemie, born 3 weeks too soon and about to celebrate her 2nd birthday.
If I didn’t try and try to get an appointment with the hospital and prenatal doctor that I wanted, I am convinced that I would never have found out that my daughter had intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Who knows what would have happened if I had stayed at the clinic where they didn’t seem to care about their patients.
My belly never grew how it should. I never felt like I was pregnant, just fat (ha ha). My baby stopped growing when I was around 28 weeks pregnant. She was also breech and never turned around while in utero.
There is never really a specific reason for why a baby has IUGR, it is just something that happens and it happens a lot more than people know. One reason my doctors think my daughter had IUGR was because I have a bicornuate uterus and one side is a lot bigger than the other. There just wasn’t enough room for her to grow.
Once I found out that she was an IUGR baby, I was going to the doctor 2 times a week. I would go once for a non-stress test and a visit with the doctor to make sure I was doing okay. The second would be the same, along with an ultrasound (which was my favorite part of the situation). Luckily, the doctors never found anything wrong with my body or my daughter. They decided I would have a scheduled c-section at 37 weeks gestation because she was breech and showed no signs of turning. The doctors also wanted to make sure nothing was wrong with her that couldn’t be seen through an ultrasound.
I never really thought that a baby born at 37 weeks was considered premature. My daughter was considered a preterm-preemie baby because of her size. She was born at 37 weeks gestation and weight 4lbs. 7 oz.
The hospital where I gave birth did not have a NICU, so she was taken to their special care nursery. She only had one major problem: she could not regulate her own temperature. She had to stay in a heated incubator for 9 days before she was able to come home. It took her 7 days to control her own temperature, and an extra 2 days just to make sure she could keep it normal.
My daughter is now almost 2 years old and has quadrupled her birth weight. She is on track mentally and developmentally. I had a lot of help during my pregnancy from my sister-in-law who is a nurse and works with IUGR patients on a daily basis. She helped me understand what was happening with my baby and her restricted development. Of course I had my doctors, but having the help of a family member who had dealt with patients like me made everything so much easier to understand and deal with.
A lot of IUGR patients have other children who are not IUGR. I was told I could have a “normal” pregnancy, or I could have another IUGR baby. I am almost positive that any other pregnancies I have will result in IUGR because of the shape of my uterus.
My daughter –A–is smart and loving and she amazes me every day. When it comes to having a premature baby, I know that we were very lucky. We had the access to healthcare we needed, and she didn’t have too many problems. I am grateful for that fact, and I am grateful to have such a joyful child.