Our family’s preemie story is one of determination and happiness.
While my newest addition and I walk through Target, I get many glances from the local patrons regarding my 6 month-old son. There are lots of smiles and many compliments on how adorable he is. I mean, he is the cutest baby I’ve ever seen, so I can’t deny that. However, what these people don’t know is the hard road my son and I traveled on to get to this point.
When you catch a glimpse of my son Luke, you would have no idea what journey he has been through in the short few months he has been on earth. While now he looks like a possible replica of the Gerber baby with his chubby cheeks, his baby blues and the adorable cleft on his chin, what you didn’t see is what he looked like on the day that he was born.
Let me take you back to Luke’s birthday. It was a Saturday morning and I was admitted into the hospital for preeclampsia (extremely high blood pressure as a direct result of the pregnancy). I knew I was there due to complications stemming from my pregnancy, but I was completely unprepared when my doctor walked into my room and gave me the shocking news that they were prepping the OR and I would be having emergency surgery within minutes. I was nervous, anxious and, beyond anything, scared. You see, I was only 27 weeks pregnant. Luke would be delivered 13 weeks early, way too soon to be entering the world.
In the strangest set of unfortunate coincidences, my middle son was also born at 27 weeks.
So, strangely, my husband and I had been in an eerily similar situation almost exactly 5 years prior, and, while we did survive that previous journey, we were certainly not prepared to have this happen again. Twice was unimaginable. I was in disbelief. I was shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t help but be absolutely terrified as I was rolled in the operating room.
While I will omit the pain that comes with any surgery, I will tell you how ecstatic I was to see Luke for the first time. While he was incredibly tiny at 1 pound and 11 ounces, he was beyond perfect in every way. The first glimpse of him filled my heart with so much hope. He was here entirely too early. However, my amazing doctor had said, “You will leave this hospital with your baby.” That sentence carried me through the next 66 days while he was in the NICU.
When I entered Room 15 of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the first time, I saw my little guy all hooked up to multiple wires and monitors inside a clear isolette. It’s never easy seeing your child sick in the hospital. Due to his size and special needs, I wasn’t able to hold Luke at first. And let me tell you: Waiting a week to cradle your newborn is incredibly heart breaking. However, that first time the nurse handed me my baby, I was all smiles, with, admittedly, a few tears.
Over the course of the next 2 months, Luke had to learn how to breathe and eat much earlier than a full-term baby. Each day had its ups and downs but he showed me, my husband, and the hospital staff what an amazingly tough boy he is. With all the possibilities of what could go wrong, those 66 days were mostly uneventful, thankfully, and we were able to take Luke home at a whopping 4 pounds.
His homecoming was greatly anticipated by his older brothers since they weren’t able to meet him while in the NICU due to hospital rules and regulations. Every day my 5 year-old would ask me if the baby was coming home. I’ll always remember my sons’ faces when they rushed through the door from school to see their baby brother for the first time. It was truly the sweetest thing.
So while people who see Luke and I out and about are taken aback to hear how his journey started, I can’t help but feel proud. I am incredibly overjoyed by how much he has grown and flourished and how “normal” people say he looks. All I see is my son, who is surpassing every milestone with flying colors. He is our little caboose who came into this world like a steam train and hasn’t looked back yet!