Meet Holli, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 24 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 139
Current age of preemie(s): 2
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: central line infection, NEC, PDA ligation, respiratory assistance, ROP, laser eye surgery, intubation, extubation, bradycardia, bilateral inguinal hernia, apnea monitor, pumping breast milk, early intervention.
Born at 24 weeks in October of 2014, Justin faced numerous complications. At two weeks old he developed a central line infection and was treated with antibiotics. Soon after that, he developed NEC. He was on the vent until after his PDA ligation surgery at 5 weeks old. Close to his due date, his ROP advanced to Stage 3 Zone 3 and he required laser eye surgery. We were transferred to CHOP for bilateral inguinal hernia repair at the beginning of February 2015 before going back to our home NICU with plans for discharge, which was then delayed because he would brady and require stimulation here and there. Today Justin receives Early Intervention services but is overall doing really well.
Looking back at my journey as a whole, the most memorable part is how strong such a little baby was. There were so many bumps along the way, but he fought through them all. I also remember the nurses who took time to talk to us and explain things over and over again and who truly loved Justin and wanted what was best for him. That said, new parents of preemies should remember that as much as doctors and nurses know how to care for preemies, parents pick up on little things that can turn out to be very important! The NICU is a scary place where no one wants to start out being a mom or dad, but cherish the time with your baby and don't be afraid to celebrate your baby’s birth and the milestones. Take pictures and find a preemie baby book – they do exist!
I was inspired to become part of the Graham's Foundation preemie parent mentor program because I want other parents to know that even though the NICU is a tough journey, it’s worth it in the end when your baby comes home. Nothing can prepare you for a preemie and you will feel so many emotions along the way. It’s ok to be happy one minute and angry or sad the next. Other people may not understand but other parents of preemies will.
The micropreemie journey can be like walking through a mine field for both preemies and their families. The moms and dads of the earliest babies celebrate not only the milestones, but also the minutes. Every hour in the early days is hard won. Every milestone met, a triumph. A micro-preemie parent’s courage and resilience may be tested to the very limits. The struggle may feel never-ending, but it’s important that parents know they are never alone.