~Meet Mama Hannah~
Who are you?
I am a caring loving wife and mother. I am an aspiring Doula and looking forward to helping other mommies bring their own miracles into the world. My first daughter was born full term and is turning into quite the little diva. My youngest child was born a little over 2 months premature and has defied all odds since. My husband is a member of the Law Enforcement community and works very hard providing for our family. He is my best friend.
What is your biggest strength as a mom?
It is very hard for me to identify a strength. I feel like you are either a mother or you are not. One thing my mother taught me, that has always stuck with me, is to be present as much as possible, and be involved in every growing moment you can.
How do you spend time away from your children?
During time away from my children… Away from my children? Never heard of it. Occasionally, my husband and I escape the clutches of the rug rats for dinner and a movie. At home I enjoy playing dress up, building forts, and cooking with my oldest, 4 years, and snuggle time with my youngest 15 months.
Tell us a little bit about your pregnancy? Was it similar to your first at all?
For the most part both of my pregnancies were different. For everything that was the same there was something else different. My first pregnancy I was very energetic and active. My second pregnancy I was absolutely exhausted and morning sickness took its toll. I was hospitalized on numerous occasions due to the constant vomiting/migraines. I did not gain 1 pound throughout the entire voyage. Towards the end of my second pregnancy I was constantly being monitored as I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension. I was in the OB office 3 times a week for an hour at a time.
Did you think any of the symptoms or complications you were having would result in a preterm delivery?
At no time did the thought of having a premature baby ever cross my mind. I always thought it was something that could never happen to me. Don’t we all think that way at some point in our lives? Even throughout all the complications I had during my pregnancy I never thought I would have a premature baby.
Did you know before you got to the hospital that you were going to have the baby? Did you or could you have any time to mentally or physically prepare?
I was not able to physically or mentally prepare for the arrival of my baby. A small part of me knew when we were in route to the hospital she would be born but I never thought it would actually happen this way.
Tell us about the delivery? How far along? How did you feel? What were you and your husband thinking? More hopeful or scared?
I woke up in the morning and went to the bathroom. I noticed some spotting and also noticed the baby wasn’t being active like she normally was this time of day. I called Kaiser and spoke to an advice nurse. They advised me to drink a sugary drink and lay down. Within a couple of minutes I felt as if I was having severe contractions. I woke my husband and had him take me to the hospital as the severity of my contractions became worse. 1 hour later we were at labor and delivery. Once we were there and settled in the contractions subsided. I assumed they were stressed induced braxton-hicks. Little did i know my water had broke and I was 2 cm dilated. The gestational age of my baby was 30 weeks and 6 days. Dr’s came in and explained we would staying in the hospital until the baby was born. Dr’s advised they were going to do everything they could to stop contractions and keep her in the oven until she was she was done. Nurses administered 1 of a 2 part steroid injection that would fully develop the baby’s lungs in the event of a premature delivery. We were moved to a more permanent type room in labor and delivery to await the unknown. 3 days later I was awoken at 4am to receive antibiotics for my broken water. My mother had spent the night with me that night. I remember telling her my contractions were coming back. She altered my nurse. I was outfitted with a monitor, but the nurses could not pick up any contractions on the monitor. They gave me a little remote I could push every time I felt a contraction so they could mark it on the sheet. At this point the contractions were less than a minute apart. I told my mom I felt as if the baby was coming. My mom again alerted my nurse. At this point the Dr was already in route. What seemed like an eternity later (seconds) a team of doctors and nurses arrived in my room. One doctor asked for a flashlight so he could check me. I will never forget the words I heard next, “Never mind I can see the baby”. Within seconds the nurses were pulling everything out of the walls and telling me we’re going downstairs the the labor and delivery floor. I remember hearing over the loudspeaker, “Neonatal rapid response team needed.” Once I was in the room I remember thinking all I wanted was for my mother to be in the room. At one point it felt as if I was in a production film. There were approximately 20 nurses and or doctors in the room. One doctor could see that I was starting to panic. He then looked at me and told me to focus on him. He assured me everything would be OK and that they do this all the time. 11 minutes from the time my contractions started my miracle baby came out screaming which is uncommon for a baby of this gestational age. The doctors allowed me to hold her for a brief moment before taking her off the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
How was all of this communicated to your little girl?
The premature birth of our child was very hard on our family. But it was hardest on our 3 year old. She didn’t understand why she had a baby sister she couldn’t see or touch. We explained the circumstances to her and left out no details. The day after the baby came we were scheduled to move. Time doesn’t stop when you are dealing with a family crisis. My husband and army of help facilitated the move in 1 day. So not only did our 3 year old have a new sister but also had a new house to adjust to. The year to follow we had a really hard time with her behavior. It is hard to say if it is just a common characteristic of a 3 year old or if it was a result of all that happened in a short period of time.
How long was she in the hospital? What did you and she go thru? What was the scariest part?
I was devastated. I felt as if I had failed as a mother. What did I do that caused this? My husband and I were just scared. We always would tell ourselves that we were in the best place we could be. Lots and lots of tears were shed. As I sit her writing this I am wiping away tears. During our 4 week stay in the NICU my husband and I made the 45 minute commute to the hospital everyday. One of the NICU nurses Carol, our guardian angel, told us to go home at night to tend to our oldest. As much as we wanted to stay at the hospital every second we needed to provide structure for our oldest. She would remember us being gone. The baby would not. So everyday we would be at the hospital for 3 care times. During care times I was able to hold her, change diapers, and breastfeed towards the end.
My husband would feed her by bottle once her feeding tube came out. It was like having a full time job. Due to my husbands supreme health insurance medical expenses were minimal. Although food, gas, and entertainment between care times placed a financial burden on us we didn’t anticipate. Our hospital’s policy was for the baby to reach 35 weeks gestational age and weigh 4 pounds. Every day we would celebrate a gain of grams or ounces like we had won the Superbowl. At night and first thing in the morning we would call the NICU and get a briefing of the care times we had missed. “She pooped! Oh my god. What a relief.” was a common saying. She had an issue with her digestive system so pooping was a huge deal.
Seeing your very little girl hooked up to all the monitors is something no parent should ever have to see. Preemies have apnea spells known as Bradycardia. It is basically when they forget to breath. On a few occasions the alarm would go off and the nursing staff would have to stimulate her to get her to remember to breathe. Scary! I sometimes lie awake at night and can hear that damn alarm going off. The nurses would always tell me not to look at the monitor but to look at the baby, Her physical appearance would tell us if she was in distress.
As tough as our NICU journey was all we had to do was look around at all the other babies in the pod. Our story as bad as it seems, was nothing compared to what some other families have to go through.
How did your husband and oldest handle it all?
My husband has never been the same, lol. The big, bad tough guy I once knew is now a big softy. Before the birth of this little girl I could count the number of times I have seen him cry on one hand. Since, I have lost count. Our oldest loves her little sis more that words can say. They are now able to actually play together. Hitting, pinching, yelling and crying are things we never take for granted, but we could do without. 😉
How did you find balance or peace? How is you baby girl doing now?
Balance and peace were not achieved till we were home for a couple months. Getting in a routine added structure to our lives. The little 2 lb 13 oz 15.5″ angel is now a whopping 22 lb beast of a child. She laughs, plays and is so happy. We always say she is just happy to be alive.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month and we are beyond honored that Hannah shared her story with us. The strength of you and your family is amazing Hannah! Your little girl is no doubt a warrior. Miracles do happen. To all the mamas and families who have been down this road we are in awe of you and our hearts go out to you.
“When it comes to preemies everyday counts. It’s not a countdown… it’s a count up!!”
“An estimated 15 million babies around the world are born premature each year and more than one million of them do not survive their early birth. Although the United States has seen sustained improvement in its preterm birth rate, it has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any industrialized country.”
Hannah recommend the following links for more information: