Every day, something reminds me of my son’s traumatic start in life. Sometimes it’s a glimpse of his many scars that are culprit. This morning, the stimulus is the large ceramic mug full of tea that weighs more than he did at birth.
My son, Torran, suffered through more in the first four and a half months of his life than some people will ever know, all three months before he was supposed to be born.
I waited a year after my marriage to Bruce to have children. He and I dated overseas. I wanted to be sure we had a sound marriage as we’d spent no more than two consecutive weeks together in our three years of dating. My parents had a nasty divorce and I didn’t want the same for my children.
Sadly, when I was ready to become pregnant, it wasn’t easy. I was nearing 35 years of age and I chose the help of a fertility clinic. Each month I struggled with negative self-talk about my functionality as a woman. My sex life became monotonously functional. When I received the call, “you’re pregnant,” my heart forgot all of that pain.
Until, that is, the bleeding started in my 6th week of pregnancy. From then onwards, my bleeding ranged from spotting to Niagara Falls. I didn’t work for fear of losing my baby in my high stress emergency nursing job. At 19 weeks, my water broke, causing oligohydramnios. I didn’t have any amniotic fluid left in my uterus. A doctor told me to consider terminating my pregnancy because of the risks to my health and the numerous bad outcomes for the baby.
The pain of my sadness overwhelmed me. I would have listened to the doctor had it not been for feeling my baby move inside me. I also found one mother online who shared her story and her baby survived and thrived.
Bruce and I waited to see what our baby would do. My bed became my prison. I cried in fear of my unborn child’s life every day. Those tears didn’t stop when he was born and I heard his first blood-filled breaths. He came out three months too early and, once again, faced death and disability.
That was six years ago and I still cry about the worst year of my life. We watched the tiny, skeletal creature who was our precious, fragile son go through incredibly painful and disruptive procedures. Torran’s first months were dominated by painful touch to practically every part of his body.
Being a new mother meant being in survival mode. I got out of bed every day because I had to. I pumped and froze breast milk even though I felt bitter because I didn’t know if he’d ever be able to eat. My husband’s co-workers put together a cooking roster for us because we didn’t want to be at home cooking meals. We were able to eat at the hospital and spend more time with our baby in the box. When Torran almost died, I almost did, too.
It’s been difficult dealing with the negativity of Torran’s premature birth. I’ve been to baby showers and felt resentful about the right of passage that I didn’t experience. However, I knew that if I dwelt in that melancholy for too long or too deeply, my family would suffer – the baby I ached for wouldn’t have the best mother he deserved for coming home. Now, I consciously try to push the most hurtful feelings aside and hold onto the positive outcomes of his life. I started supporting premature babies and their families before Torran was discharged from the NICU.
My latest effort, Growing A Rainbow, is a first hand account of our NICU experience. The narrative answers the statement, “I can’t imagine what it was like,” for people with full term children. I offer hope and insights about coping to other preemie families. Best of all, a portion of the book sales support the premature parent driven Canadian Premature Babies Foundation.
About our Author: Between 12 hour emergency nursing shifts and 24 hour parenting shifts, Lesley Donaldson-Reid author-published Growing A Rainbow: The Premature Journey of a Two Pound Hero which launches on World Prematurity Day, November 17th, 2014. It is an honest and gripping narrative about her family welcoming baby Torran into the world three months prematurely. Lesley proudly parents a child with additional needs alongside her husband, Bruce. Both men in her life have made a significant impact on how she approaches every day.
She blogs about prematurity and special needs parenting on realwomendrivestick.com, and about her journey as a new author on writerlesleydonaldson.com. Lesley is a contributor on Preemie Babies 101, That’s-What-She-Said, and a public speaker, her latest engagement being BlissDom Canada 2014. Follow Lesley on Twitter at @FanofPreemies and @Bornagainwriter.