November is Preemie-Awareness Month   7 comments

 

No, you didn’t miss something – the babies were not preemies, and I am not pregnant again. However, since we do have a miracle “micro-preemie” in our extended family, I thought it might be a good idea to blog about the March of Dimes’ Fight For Preemies campaign (www.marchofdimes.com).

When we found out we were having twins at just 11 weeks along, having the babies come too soon was one of my first thoughts. Okay, my truly first thought was “Holy crap, what are we going to do with TWO babies?” No, actually, when I really ponder it, my first thought was “Told ya so!”, directed mainly at my unbelieving husband. But my second (and first really legitimate) thought was panic. And then, joy, a warm yummy joy at seeing two beautiful little heartbeats, two little squirmy bodies, four hands, feet, and eyes (ok, those were actually creepy on ultrasound. But whatever).

 
Our first ultrasound at 11 weeks
Our first ultrasound at 11 weeks

And then… total and inalienable fear. I was afraid of EVERYTHING that could go wrong. Afraid of all the in utero complications that I knew of too well from 4 years of medical school. Afraid of the increased rate of loss with twin pregnancies. Afraid of major birth defects. Afraid of getting three little girls dressed, fed, and hair all done in time for daycare every morning. Afraid we’d never find 3 car seats that would fit across our backseat – or worse, what people would THINK when they saw 3 carseats across our backseat! But mostly, I was afraid of having the babies come too early – waaaay too early. I began to fixate on the really risky part of my pregnancy, between 26 and 32 weeks, where the babies would be considered “viable” even if they were born at less than the weight of a typical grapefruit. How can a little person survive born that small? And how could they possible survive and be healthy kids?

The thought of it swirled in my head, and every time a client would ask me if I should still be working, considering how intense and physically strenuous my job can be, I would smile and tell them everything was FINE, I was FINE, the babies were FINE, look at these child-birthing hips, I was born to have twins, ha ha ha! And then inside, I would shrivel up and die a micro death at the thought of doing anything that might increase the risk to my little peanuts. 

I remember the day that we hit 26 weeks. I watched the calendar crawl slowly through those 6 weeks. I was getting HUGE, and figured maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the babies came now: this belly can’t possibly get any larger, right? And then I’d go for my bi-weekly ultrasounds, and their body weights would creep up: 1 lb, 1.5 lbs, 2lbs, 2.5 lbs, 3 lbs. When the babies hit 4 lbs a piece, I started to breathe a little more easily. I used to talk to them, say silly things like, “Come on, girls, let’s just cook a little longer… It’s not really so great out here that you need to rush anything…”

My Doctor was recommending medical leave from work, consdering how large I was getting and how stressed and tired I was at the end of a long day at the clinic. I was glad to slow down the frantic pace a little, and use the time to be on light bed rest for safety. And as most of you know, in the end, it was wonderful. The girls arrived on December 21st, full term at 37.5 weeks and HUGE at over 7lbs each. They were born in under 4 hours of labour and came home from hospital within 48 hours, nursing like stars and passing all their health checks.

Our girls at 7 days old

Our girls at 7 days old

But the day before we were induced at 37.5 weeks, we got the call that their cousin, little Kendra Molly had been born. Early. Reaaaaaly early. It was almost Christmas, and Kendra wasn’t due until April. She was only 26 weeks along, born at 1.01kg (2.2 lbs) at a smaller hospital in Barrie, north of Toronto.

Kendra at birth - 26 weeks, 2.2lbs
Kendra at birth – 26 weeks, 2.2lbs
After being stabilized and assessed, she was flown by air ambulance to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, where she spent almost 3 months in NICU.

Kendra at Sick Kids
We kept abreast of wee Kendra’s progress thanks to her mom’s frequent posts and pictures on Facebook, along with calls from Jeff’s mom to keep us updated. While in the NICU, no one but the parents were allowed in, so even the grandparents didn’t meet or get to hold Kendra until she was a few months old. But it was so exciting to hear when Kendra hit a new weight goal, or they were able to remove one more support item. And then she was just in a regular incubator, no tubes or anything. So cool.
When she was released at 3 months old (just before real “due date”), Kendra had just hit 5 lbs.  But the weight piled on, and Kendra is a scrappy little fighter (like a few other little Stewart girls I know) and so she’s certainly caught up to her 2009 peers. Other than the big scar on her head from the surgery, I don’t think anyone would know Kendra was a micro-preemie.
Kendra at 10 months

Kendra at 10 months

At 10 months now, Kendra is HUGE, almost as big as her full term cousins, and doing great. But their road was rocky and included lots of tubes, meds, pneumonias, and even surgery to reduce fluid pressure on her brain. She is a miracle. And with all our twin-sanity around here, we haven’t even been able to make the 2 hour journey north to meet her yet. But hopefully at this year’s big family Christmas brunch, we can get some real pictures of all 3 cousins, born just 1 day and over 5 lbs apart, together at 1 year old.

Looking forward to it!

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7 responses to “November is Preemie-Awareness Month

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  1. Hey Kym,

    This is really awesome and means a lot to me as Kendra’s Mom that other’s find her the miracle that I do.

    Can’t wait to see you guys at the brucnch. Take care!!!

    Sylvia

  2. This is a great post. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

    Preemies mean so much to us. I wanted to let you know that we will be participating in the Bloggers Unite Fight for Preemies event on November 17th, Prematurity Awareness Day. I thought you might be interested in joining us. Here’s a link for more info and to sign up to help us spread the word: http://bit.ly/a6y8hj. Nov. 17th is the day we all fight – because babies shouldn’t have to.

  3. Hooray for Kendra! And also, that is a sweet sweet picture of your girls sleeping together — cute! We barely took any pictures those first crazy weeks (months!) so I don’t have many!

    Our story with twins sounds really similar to yours — we found out at 11 weeks too, and made it to full term with 7ish pounders. I was so worried about them coming early, and know so many other twins who did!

  4. Pingback: Kendra’s Movie « Twinside Out: When twins make it "three under three"

  5. I am truly touched with Kendra’s completed story as an extened family member I was informed about the birth and special problems that arose. I am so glad to hear how well she has done and how relieved Jeff and Sylvia must be now as Christmas approaches. They really will have a joyous time and I am pleased that you, Will and the three young ladies will all be having a brunch with Will’s extended family!Dad and I will be with you in spirit for sure. love mom

  6. Thank you for sharing your twin story and the story of little Kendra in support of Prematurity Awareness Month and the March of Dimes. Our twin story is closer to Kenda’s. We had boy/girl twins born at 24-weeks. It’s been a long road, but they are now a happy healthy 19 years old. I am sharing the journals I kept during their 5-month NICU stay at Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds. I have had two subsequent pregnancies and can totally relate to your feelings during those critical weeks between viability and birth. I remember each sigh of relief when we passed 24 weeks +3 days (when our twins were born); and then 28 weeks, the point at which most preemies don’t need ventilation; and then 32 weeks, another lung-development milestone. My two younger boys were both born 1 week past their due dates, and we were grateful for every minute.

  7. I reached this blog via your link from the Isaac and Mollie story on Freshly Pressed at present. Straying somewhat from the subject of the medical aspect, I would like to add that both of you mothers underline, especially given these special circumstances of the premature births, that it is the ladies who are the main game, who are the big deal, who have the important role in human life. We men are an accessory. Hopefully, in a little more time, given that the liberation of ladies is an ever strengthening cause, we boys and men will all be trained to get our act together. (By the way, I never say wo-men or wo-boys, you are ladies and girls.)

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