How did you learn about your pregnancy and what was your initial reaction?
We had been trying for 4 years, after several miscarriages and lots of time in-between we finally got a positive pregnancy that lasted longer than 12 weeks! we were scared of course that it would be like all the other ones but of course hoping this was different and our prayers would be answered & dreams come true.
When did you find out that things in the pregnancy were not going perfectly? Did you know you would have to spend time in the NICU?
At exactly 28 weeks I had terrible pain in my stomach and asked my husband to come home to be with me. I took a warm bath to relax and laid in bed all day. I felt better that evening but told him she wasn't moving. Two days later I had a friend speak to me and urge me to get to the doctor which I then quickly made an appointment. They got me in right away. They found her not moving but she had a strong, steady heartbeat so they sent me to Presbyterian Hospital downtown to the Maternal fetal medicine department where we had further tested. They found that she was severely anemic and immediately admitted me. They were careful to move me and didn't want me walking. I was like guys, "I feel fine." Little did I know how sick our baby girl was. I never intended to be in the NICU and wasn't sure what I was in store for.
How long did Emmaline spend in the NICU? What was the hardest part of your time there?
Emmaline spent 125 days or 4.5 months in the NICU, there certainly isn't ONE thing that was hard about this time in our life. The amount of time we had to be away from her, the constant 2 hour check-ups for E - blood draws, feeding tube changes, prob on foot, all the beeps . . . . you never know what they mean and if she is ok. Of course after time you learn what is what but at first - wow!
What therapies have really helped Emmaline?
Emmaline has had physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy since she left the NICU. She still has them today and I am so thankful for the hearts of these therapists and passion to really make an impact in Emmaline's life.
How did you hear about Bee Mighty and what made you apply?
Emmaline was actually in a fundraising video. So I heard about it in the NICU but didn't need the services until we couldn't find proper care inside of network due to understaffing and over needs from so many children who were also born around the pandemic and lost a lot of interaction that is necessary for development.
What does a typical day with Emmaline look like now?
Emmaline gets up at 6:30 a.m. We see brother off to the bus at 7:00 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday she goes to mommy’s work where there is a preschool that she loves from 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursdays she goes to Barnette Elementary from 8 a.m. - 2:40 p.m. where she is in a preschool class full of PT, OT and speech and LOVES feeling like a big girl. After school we wait for brother to get off the bus and then we have the afternoon together to play and have family time. We eat dinner at 5:30 p.m. as a family where Emmaline always reminds us to say our blessings.
Any advice you would give another family going through the process? Anything that really helped you get through the experience?
Have faith - how do you go day to day knowing that you are not in control, that there is NOTHING you can do to make it better or go away or easy for your growing tiny baby.
Support the nurses and doctors that are taking care of your child. They see SO much and must manage so many families' emotions and even some families that don't show up for their babies. They leave exhausted and depleted. They are true heroes
Be your child's best advocate - if you have instincts listen to them, you are never wrong. You are still their mother or father, and you are more connected to your baby than ANYone else
Rest and breathe - you must take care of yourself in order to be your best self for your baby!
Celebrate every single tiny milestone - the strength and drive these preemies have is remarkable. They are miracle babies that do incredible things. Never stop believing that the impossible is possible
Find a strong support system, there are SO many people going through or have gone through what you are going through. don't be afraid to ask for support, reach out, talk to people, seek prayer and guidance from your church.
Allow the drive to and from the NICU to be a time to reflect, thank God, clear your mind and be able to focus on the miracle in front of you