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Personal Stories ~ From Rita
My name is Rita and I am the mother of two daughters. Our first was born four weeks early and was 7 lbs 12 oz. We knew all along that she was big, so I really believed she was done early. Our second baby measured right on for her due date, so I didn't believe my doctor when she told me I was high risk for pre-term labor. At 28 weeks I was checked like we discussed in one of my first prenatal visits. I was going to ask the doctor not to check because I truly believed nothing was going on. My husband said to get checked just to make sure. Well, we were shocked when she said I was 1.5 cm dilated and she sent us straight to the hospital. That was that start of our pre-term labor and it ended at week 35. At 35 weeks we had an amnio done to check the maturity of the lungs. By this time, I had been on all the different medications for stopping contractions, was in the hospital on magnesium (two weeks), and had the shots to help the lungs develop. We had reached the decision that if the lungs were fully mature, we would stop all medication and let nature take its course. The lungs came back mature, and we came off the magnesium overnight. I started contracting every 4-6 minutes throughout the night and by the next afternoon I was 8 cm. Lexi was born at 9:41 pm with only one push. Here begins our NICU experience . . .

Lexi was born weighing 6 lbs and 6 oz. I was able to hold her for a few minutes and then she was taken to the NICU. My husband was with her until I was able to make it to the NICU (took two hours for epidural to wear off enough to stand on my own). This was one of the hardest things for me because I remember holding my first daughter for awhile and trying to breastfeed when she was born. This time everyone left me to go with Lexi and it was just my mom and me for two hours. It was hard to believe I had just had a baby. When I was able to go to the NICU, Lexi was under a oxygen hood and had been for 2 hours. They said she might need it all night, but it was too early to tell. It was hard not being to hold her or cuddle with her. By the next morning, Lexi was out from the oxygen and in an open crib holding her temperature on her own. I was able to try breastfeeding her for the first time. Our biggest shock that day was the I.V. they had started in her head. We had no idea they would put one there and when it was explained to us, it made sense, but it was still hard to see.

The nurses were all great and explained everything to us. We weren't allowed to hold her unless she was eating, so I had lots of hours with nothing to do in the hospital. I started pumping right away and stored the milk in the fridge in the NICU. By the third day Lexi was able to spend the night with us in the parents room to see if we could feed her all night long. This was the most stressful night. My husband and I struggled constantly to feed her. The nurses gave us certain amounts that she had to have and it was always a fight because all she wanted to do was sleep. She was jaundiced and had a huge bruise on her head that made her even more sleepy. We had to undress her, hold her away from us, and use a wet washcloth on her face to try and wake her up. Not only did we have to get a certain amount in, but we had to do it in a half hour - it was impossible. The next day was September 11 and Lexi had to stay one more night to make sure her jaundice got better. It was a surreal day for me. Lexi was suppose to stay with me all day in the parent room (no windows) and I could only take her to the NICU for stats every four hours. I felt so isolated in the room all by myself with my little baby who slept constantly. The t.v. was on all day with reports of the terrorist attack and I felt so alone. It was hard to go from all the noise and people in the NICU to the transition room all alone. Lexi went home the next day and the hospital sent us home with a bili bed to help with her jaundice.

Our experience in the NICU was brief but good one. I had faith in the nurses and doctors and I enjoyed talking with the other parents who were there. Lexi was there for a total of four days.

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