Jayda’s story: From NICU to Home
Sometimes a pregnancy does not go quite as planned. Here is one mom’s story about her baby, Jayda, born at 33 weeks.
I will start my story by saying that my husband, Mike, and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl into this world on Sunday, March 24th, 2013…7 weeks earlier than expected. I had been to the doctor late Thursday afternoon and there was no sign that this baby was going to show up so early and I took comfort in knowing she would have a few more weeks to grow and develop in my ever growing belly. And to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant; feeling all those squirms and kicks from within and I wasn’t ready to give that up.
At roughly 1am Sunday, I woke up thinking I was just getting too hot. Quickly I discovered this was not true and that my water had broke. In that moment I knew this baby was coming and going to come today. When we arrived at the hospital around 2am, they first tried to stop my labor; which I personally thought was pointless but it made sense to try. Once my contractions started around 3 am, they were 5 minutes apart and getting more intense. By 8am they realized they couldn’t stop my labor and sent me up to delivery to now get induced. Jayda was then born at 7:52 that evening, weighing in a petite 5 pounds even and 18 inches long. Tiny but perfect in every way.
When people would say to me ‘Oh, you must have been so excited to have an early baby’, I hesitated with answering and said, ‘Actually I was in total shock. I wasn’t ready. I’m not sure excitement is the word I would use to describe that experience, more like anxiousness. During my 19 hours of labor I was constantly reminding myself this was real and actually happening. At home, I didn’t even have the crib set up, no diapers or sleepers bought, didn’t have the diaper bag ready…I literally had nothing prepared. So when I wasn’t trying to breathe through my contractions, I was just trying to stay calm and savor all those little movements from within because all too soon that part of my life would be over, and I wasn’t ready for that to happen.
The blessing in all this is that during my labor I felt at such peace about the health status of my baby. Its hard to explain further than that, and I knew delivering that early SO much could go wrong, but I just knew everything was going to be ok. Once she finally arrived, Mike and I had maybe a minute to see and hold her and then she was whisked away promptly to the NICU; thus began our NICU journey.
Jayda’s Hospital Stay
I knew I had wanted to try and breastfeed from the beginning, and I had been told by many great moms who had done both formula and breastfeeding, that if you wanted to breastfeed you had to be patient and go into it with an open mind. Well, my start with my baby wasn’t a normal start but I was determined to at least give it a shot. Immediately I started pumping and they would then give Jayda my milk, along with a formula ‘booster’ to give her more calories so she would gain weight. I would pump in the morning, grab something to eat, go to the hospital to feed and spend some time with her, come home and start the routine all over again. This was very exhausting but I knew I wanted to keep my milk supply up in hopes of her breastfeeding down the road.
Jayda spent 2 weeks in the NICU with minimum complications and again, so many people would say to me ‘Well, at least you were able to get more rest and sleep since she was at the hospital’. I then tried not to glare at them, since they really didn’t know the details. I just would politely correct them and move to the next subject. The reality was that it was VERY hard on my body. I wasn’t sleeping well at all, I was trying to get things ready for her to come home amongst pumping, trying to get my appetite back, attempting to maybe catch a nap and spending time with her. Even what some people wouldn’t consider difficult or even consider being a factor, was the walking to and from the NICU. This ‘simple’ task was also very rough on my body and certainly delayed my healing time, which is turn, made me a lot more exhausted.
Those first 2 weeks were a total blur but through it all I was just focusing on Jayda. I was doing everything for my baby…my Jayda. I had no idea my motherly instinct would kick in so fast and so hard, but when you have a baby in the NICU I guess that will do it. You will do anything you can to ensure your baby is getting the best start possible. I wasn’t frustrated that she was in there because I knew she needed that special care, I was just more impatient. It was hard giving her a kiss goodnight and leaving her to someone else. Don’t get me wrong, all the nurses and doctors were fantastic in the NICU, but she was mine and I wanted her home. Patience and focusing on what was best for Jayda was definitely a vital part of me staying calm and focused through this process.
Once we got her home, I was still bottle-feeding her with my milk and her formula ‘booster’. She still needed to continue her good weight gain, so this process went on from about another 2-3 weeks after she came home. When I got the ok from the dietitian to just try her on breast milk, I was very excited to throw the pumping equipment aside but pretty nervous to see how Jayda would make the adjustment. Thankfully, it only took about 2 days of major patience and both of us trying hard to make this work. I could have easily said forget it and went to formula, but I really wanted to breastfeed to get that ‘bond’, that ‘connection’ that so many mothers talk about. Currently, her weight gain has slowed down but is still consistent. If I have to switch things up down the road, I will and I won’t feel bad about it or let anyone else tell me different.
Support and Lessons Learned
My husband was fantastic through this whole process as well. He really supported me and understood how exhausting and tiresome it was on me. My mom was also close by which was a huge help. Never did she over stay her welcome or try a ‘take my baby’, but she did the things that I had no energy for while my husband was away working. She would do the dishes, vacuum, laundry, prepare supper…all these things that needed to be done so I could maximize my time with Jayda and save my energy for what I needed to do.
Something I have learned very early on is to do what is best for you. Whether that is breastfeeding or formula, this brand of diaper or that, soother or no soother…everyone is different and do what is best for you and your family. Stress loves to creep up on us moms and we need to ensure that we are doing things that will minimize our stress, not maximize our stress. Then with whatever you decide…stick to it and don’t let anyone make you feel like you are doing it wrong or you should have done it a different way.
I can see how easily depression could sneak up on a new mom.A big factor for me getting through this process with very minimal ‘baby blues’ was just focusing on the perfect gift God blessed me and my husband with. She may have come early and gave us all a good shock, but she has been a huge blessing from day 1. Instead of focusing on my needs, how I missed being pregnant, how tired I was…I turned my focus to that little being day in and day out. She is what got me through each day; knowing that as I pushed forward I was doing it all for her and that one day it would pay off. We are now settling in nicely at home, and we certainly still have our ups and downs, but then I just make sure I take a moment or two, and reflect on how far we have come and how amazing, challenging, yet rewarding this journey has been. It’s only been a couple months but Jayda Joy is certainly our new joy.
We would like to sincerely thank Amy for sharing Jayda’s story with us.