Forums and Chats | Join Austprem | The Prem Journey | Austprem Ink | Products, Resources and Links |
How can I help? | National Premature Birth Awareness Week | About Austprem | Home

Prem Parent Perspectives

Parenting a prem is a very different experience. Below some of the Austprem parents share their feelings in a number of situations that prem parents have a unique perspective on.

Realising your baby is going to be born early...

"I was 35 weeks pregnant when I went into spontaneous labour. My waters broke overnight, but they were leaking slowly so I didn’t really realise what was happening. Once I twigged something was wrong, I rang the hospital and we went in. But the signs weren’t clear that I was in labour. The dip test to test for amniotic fluid was inconclusive, I was only 1cm dialated, the contractions went from regular back to irregular and because I was contracting so low in my utereus, the contractions didn’t show up on the monitor properly. As a result, the midwives made me feel a little bit silly for rushing into the hospital. They told me to wait while the Ob made his way into the hosp (it was Boxing Day). By the time he checked me, I was 5cm dialated and they could see Brianna’s hair she was so far down the birth canal! So it went from “If you are in labour we will stop it” to “She is coming today!” in a matter of minutes! She was born 1 hour and 10 minutes later! It was all such a big shock. As I was in labour, we had 60 people at our house for a party that went on without us! We had people texting me asking what they could bring for the party, and I just texted them back, ignoring the fact that I was in labour. Quite surreal really."

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

"I felt unprepared and physically shaky when told Emily had to be born by emergency c-section, but at the same time absolutely elated that my obstetrician had just told me I am "about to become a mummy again". I loved that my husband was just really excited we were about to have our baby; his optimism was very important to me."

Kerry, mum to Emily, 27 weeks, 1174g

"The dreadful reality hit us as we heard the Obstetrician on the phone to the hospital - "I need two NICU beds for babies being born tonight". My hubby and I squeezed each others hands in disbelief. It was too early the babies weren't yet 25 weeks gestation. Would they survive? Would they be disabled? Four days later our precious babies arrived by emergency c-section weighing 660g and 840g. The sweetest sound was hearing  tiny cry from each boy. It was just the start of a long journey through NICU..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

Seeing your baby for the first time...

"After the boys' birth by c-section the nurses wheeled me into NICU and I managed to prop myself up and see Mitchell and Harrison for the first time. They were tiny and fragile, but to me they were the most beautiful babies I had ever seen..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

In hospital

"The biggest thing for me really, was that my experience was not like the books and magazines say it will be. I didn’t get Brianna in my room with me. No crying baby waking and demanding feeds, and no sleepless nights. My first night in hospital, I cried and cried. I had had a live baby, but still my arms were empty. Although she didn’t have major problems, she still wasn’t with me, and I didn’t like it. I had to ask permission to hold my own baby, and my sister, who is very close to me, wasn’t allowed into the Special Care Nursery where Brianna was for the 3 weeks she was in hospital. People came to see me, but couldn’t see Brianna. I felt like a failure and a bad Mum, and I’d only been doing this for a few days! As I have a medical background, I wanted to know everything that they were doing to Brianna. Unfortunately my Father In-Law had just died, so my husband was gone for 2 days travelling and attending his funeral. This was doubly hard as I wanted to be there to support him, but Brianna was her sickest while he was away so I couldn’t leave her."

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

Expressing...

"When I began my breastfeeding rollercoaster by expressing, I was a little bit obsessed! I felt like if this was all I could do to give my baby the best start, then I would be great at it! I expressed 3-4 hourly in the hospital, and when I was discharged, I kept it up at home. A friend loaned me an electric pump, and it was such a blessing! I pumped madly for the 3 weeks Brianna was in hospital, and when she was discharged, I think I took home about 5 litres of frozen breast milk!"

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

"I expressed for 5 months and it was tiring and relentless, but the best thing for my son. I had supply issues and used medication to help. Sometimes Alex would be topped up with formula. In some ways I felt like a failure as a mother; I couldn’t breastfeed or produce enough milk. My life revolved around 3-hourly expressing, sterilisation, labelling milk and hoping I’d have enough for the day. I was often tired and got easily upset if Alex vomited up the milk. When I stopped, I felt guilty - as though I somehow failed. However over time, I realised that I had done the best I could and stopping expressing removed a big pressure from my life. I now had additional time to spend with Alex."

BD, mum to Alex (606g) born at 28 weeks

"One of the mums in NICU told me how tired she was expressing for 2 weeks - I didn't have the heart to tell her I had been expressing for almost 5 months..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

The first cuddle...

"5 days after his birth, I got to hold Alex whilst they changed the sheets in his humidicrib. A 600g body attached to monitors and IV drips. I was nervous. For the last 14 weeks of my pregnancy, we were given little hope he would survive. But he had made it. Here was a brand new life with tiny eyes looking up at me. His body was so fragile. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I had loved him all along, but to feel his little body against mine was such a special moment in my life."

BD, mum to Alex, 28 weeks, 606g

"One morning I came into NICU and the nurse looking after Mitchell asked if I would like to cuddle him. I was so nervous. He was still attached to the ventilator and had tubes everywhere. When the nurses finally handed him to me he felt as light as a feather. I looked down at him and he looked at me and the NICU seemed to fade away and it was just me and my beautiful brown-eyed boy..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

Leaving hospital without your baby...

"Was the hardest thing I have ever done. I cried and cried. Because we were in a private Hosp, I was discharged after 5 days, but Brianna stayed for 3 weeks. We lived about 20 minutes drive from the hospital, so I would come in early in the morning with EBM (expressed breast milk) for her first feed, and stay all day. She was initially on 2 hourly feeds, then this increased to 3 hourly then 4 hourly. At first I would just sit by her bassinet and stare at her, or chat to the nurses, or have Kangaroo cuddles with her. In the afternoon, the nurses would find me an empty room to nap in. I was also expressing milk for her tube feeds until she learned how to suck and could breast feed effectively. When the feeds became 4 hourly, I would leave her asleep and rush off to run errands or spend time with my older step kids who live with us. It was very hard. I felt very torn."

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

"After 7 days it was time for me to go home. I visited the boys that morning and told them how much I loved them. As I walked out of the hospital I felt my heart would break in two..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

Breastfeeding...

"I really wanted to breastfeed. I pumped until Brianna learned how to suck, but she was always an atrocious feeder! And being little, she took about an hour to feed. I got my period back when she started sleeping through at about 2 months, and every time I got my period, she would refuse the breast. I would have to express the milk and throw it away and give her EBM from my freezer. It would take me a week to get her back on each time. After doing this 4 times, I gave up. I breast fed her until she was 6 months, and I would have liked to go longer, but she had other ideas!"

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

"I desperately wanted to breastfeed and I managed to do some breastfeeds, but the boys struggled to stay attached and my supply dropped after they came home. Eventually after several months of breastfeeding, expressing, comp formula feeds and bottles I decided I had done my best and the boys were weaned from breastfeeding at 8 months. The relief was enormous, but I still grieve that I couldn't breastfeed for longer..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

Changing hospitals...

"When Michael changed hospitals, from the NICU to our local hospital, I was terrified, I was worried that the staff at the new hospital wouldn't understand his needs, or know how to take care of him well enough. It was a very stressful day and I had a bad night after he moved. But it ended up being great. The staff took care of Michael very well, and as there were only a couple of "boarders" there, they had time to take care of us too. We had the chance to be parents, while still having professional staff close by."

Kirsten, mum to Michael, 31 weeks, 1278g

Taking your baby home...

"We were told we could take Brianna home after I had roomed in with her for 2 nights at the hospital. This felt like a sort of “am I good enough to look after my baby test?” that I had to pass before they would give her to me. I stayed 1 night, then convinced the Paeditrician that I just wanted to go home and would be fine. Brianna suffered badly from reflux, and was medicated to help relieve the pain she got. She would reflux while she was breastfeeding, and stop breathing and turn blue while I was feeding her, so I really had to watch her. One stipulation before I could take her home, was that she had to have stopped doing this for 48 hours before I was allowed to room in with her. She passed this test, and we managed to get her through the night fine. We were allowed home, but had to come back in 2 days for another weigh in. Walking out of the hospital with her in the capsule, I was so proud! I got her home, and just felt great freedom at being allowed to hold and cuddle her whenever I wanted! And when she started refluxing badly again and turned blue while feeding, I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want them taking her away from me again! I knew what to do for her, so I got a breathing sensor monitor for her bassinet (which saved her life a few times!) and watched her closely when I was feeding her. I eventually told the Paeditrician that she was still doing it, but her wasn’t worried because he had confidence in me as a Mum and knew that I didn’t freak out. She kept doing it intermittently until she was about 6 months old."

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

"After almost 5 months the boys were ready to come home. I was so nervous! Would I know what to do? How would I remember all of their medications? When we finally arrived home Kevin and I spent the longest time just staring at our little boys  - Mitchell and Harrison home at long last..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

New Parents/Mothers' groups...

"I went along to the group at the local Baby Health Clinic. Brianna was 2 months old before we made it to our first 0-2 month group! We stayed in that for 2 or 3 weeks, then moved up to the next 2-4 month group, as I felt that’s about where Brianna was developmentally. She was about 3-5 weeks behind full term babies, as expected. We have ended up in a Mother’s Group with 10 of us. Brianna is the oldest, and the youngest is 7 weeks younger than she is. Brianna was always the smallest by a mile! (Even now at 2, the youngest is 5kgs heavier than my little lightweight!) She was always the last to do anything eg crawl, walk etc. But, I never felt out of place. Part of that has been the wonderful women in our group, one of whom I met briefly in hospital when her daughter was in Special Care under lights for jaundice. But also, it’s been because I have never felt bad about Brianna being the last. If the girls asked whether I was worried that Brianna wasn’t walking for example, I pointed out to them that I didn’t have to leave my seat like they did to run after her! I tried to find the positives in everything, and if someone did say something to offend me, I didn’t dwell on it. Sure I might have had a little whinge to my DH, but I kept coming back! And these 9 women have been such a support to me when I fell pregnant with twins and had a long, complicated and rough pregnancy. Not only have they remained my friends, but they have loaned me “stuff”, brought mothers group to me when I was on “bed rest”, taken Brianna for me when I needed a break and even scrubbed my shower and cleaned my fridge when I was too fat and tired to do it myself! I would encourage all of you to persist with your Mother’s Group. And if you don’t click with them, try a Playgroup or even meet with other Mum’s at the Park. Invite them to your house and start an informal meeting each week at the same time. Who knows, it may turn into a group that meets together for many years to come!"

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

"I love being part of my weekly Mum's group which formed when my first child (full term) was born. An important thing we have in common is that we all want the best for our kids, and that's what keeps us together despite the different turns our lives take. It's nice to relax with a coffee while the kids happily play."

Kerry, mum to Emily, 27 weeks, 1174g

"The Prem playgroup was great - all of the parents were so supportive of each other. It was such a relief not to have to answer questions about why the boys were so small and looked so fragile. It was a big shock going to a local Mum and Bubs group  - even the community nurse commented on their size. I felt very defensive - they were my beautiful boys and I didn't want them being treated like they were an oddity. I looked around the room at these huge babies and I realised we just didn't belong..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

How old is your baby?...

"I hated this question! I have had 3 small babies. Brianna was 2035gms, Summer 2155gms and Mitchell 1814gms. Brianna was a 35 weeker, but Summer and Mitchell (my twins) were 36+6, so prem by 1 day!
I have always just said that yes, they were small. I emphasise the positives:
* Easier to hold and carry
* In their clothes for longer so get more wear out of them
* Very cute!

If people are rude and push the issue, I smile and walk away!"

Nicki, mum to Brianna, 35 weeks 2053g, and
Summer and Mitchell, 36+6 weeks, 2155g and 1814g

"My boys are now almost 3 years old and yet a day doesn't pass where someone doesn't comment on their size. I suppose because they are twins they attract more attention and really I don't mind, but I wonder if the boys will worry about people's comments when they are older..."

Lisa, mum to Mitchell (660g) & Harrison (840g), born at 24.6 weeks

© Austprem Inc. All rights reserved
website: www.austprem.org.au 
email: austprem@austprem.org.au
ABN 67 731 996 316