Three years have passed since giving birth to my micropreemie miracle, Elijah. He weighed 1lb 12oz at birth on June 21, 2013. Although time seems to be passing in the blink of an eye, I can remember every moment of his journey as if it were yesterday. I see him now and sometimes cannot believe that such a tiny human being endured so much in his 3 years of life. He is such a blessing, and his journey changed my life in more ways than one. I am a stronger mother, a true believer of miracles, and I have become an advocate for prematurity.
We had so many uncertainties. It was a “rollercoaster” of emotions. Before Elijah was born, I had 2 miscarriages back to back. I wanted to be seen by a high risk specialist to make sure that this pregnancy would be good. I was checked and tested for everything and found out at 14 weeks that I had what is called “Placenta Megally,” also known as an abnormally large placenta. Those appointments came to a halt when my water broke at 24 weeks. I spent the next 2 months on bed rest at the hospital with a heart monitor around my belly, and only able to get up for 3 mins at a time. Bedrest was hard enough being away from my husband and daughter who was just 5 years old at the time. We made the best of what we could.
Before I knew it, Elijah was born. It was summer solstice. June 21st. I heard a tiny cry and got to see his precious face for a brief second before rushing him to the NICU. For the next 3 months the NICU became our second home. I don’t think anyone can prepare themselves for the NICU life. But, like most parents, you survive, you make it, you go back and forth making sure your hands are properly washed before entering, smiling at the nurses.
There are other parents in there that you see, just like you: tired, worried, and even scared. You acknowledge them because you know what they’re going through, even though you don’t know them. You take in every moment even if it feels like eternity. The beeps of the heart monitors, the sounds of the IV drips— that is a part of the NICU that I don’t think you ever forget. The small strides that Elijah made from gaining one ounce every week, to the black tar poop that made our entire day all the better, because he is functioning like a full term baby should. Then there’s the moment when you feel the most helpless and are unable to hold them. All you can do is put your hand or finger in a plastic box. Sounds crazy, but even though you feel so sad or hopeless that they’re in there, the moment I reached for his tiny hand, and he gripped my finger with all his might… I knew… I knew then that he was a fighter. I knew that no matter the obstacle, it was as if he was saying to me he would be okay and all he needed was to know I was there. I will remember that day for the rest of my life.
Entering the NICU, there are things and certain smells that you hold on to. I remember being told I could call as many times as I wanted to check on Elijah if I wasn’t there. So on nights when I couldn’t sleep and just wanted to “check in,” I would call and always be greeted by the sweetest voices, always so calm and pleasant to talk to. After a few weeks, they became like family.
Our NICU experience, although scary and long, was absolutely amazing. Our nurses were incredible. They impacted every day we were there. For 91 days they watched over my son as if he was theirs. They cleaned him, bathed him, talked to him, held him, everything that I am supposed to do but couldn’t yet. It’s a beautiful thing to see so much love in their eyes and compassion, sharing the same amount of love and care as I did. When Elijah suddenly got a deadly intestinal infection called NEC, his neonatologist and nurses rushed to save his life. We shared the same amount of grief and worry from the unexpected, but also shared happiness and excitement when we found out he would be okay. From those moments forward, I knew that they were more to us than just a NICU nurses and doctors. They were incredible at what they did and saved lives every day, and without them, I could not be sharing my story with you.
The NICU changed our life. We learned so much in the 6 months we spent at Sharp Mary Birch. We became stronger as a family; we realized that each day is a gift and we shouldn’t take life for granted, and that kindness matters. Every year is a blessing, and a celebration. Elijah was able to come home September 18, 2013 after 91 days in the NICU.
Knowing that he was then so fragile and small, and seeing him now at 30 pounds beating all odds that stacked up against him… It is a beautiful thing, and truly a miracle. We will forever be grateful for the care and love that was given to us, because after all of their efforts they are the reason he is with us today.
Meet Miracle Mom “Lucy”
Here she is holding her newborn baby boy Elijah. He weighed 1lb 12oz at birth on June 21, 2013 and spent 91 days in the NICU.