Many of you know that this time last year I was in my second trimester of my pregnancy. We had just gotten back from our baby moon in Europe and were about to really hunker down and start preparing for the baby. About a week after we got back from our trip I had an ultrasound and received a call from my doctor saying they saw something wrong. I was rushed in for another ultrasound and admitted to the hospital that same day. I was 25 weeks pregnant at the time and scared to death.
At the time I was told I had a condition called absent end diastolic flow. I’m not going to go into all the medical details of my condition in this post (you can Google for more information), but this condition is very serious and life threatening to the baby. I was also told that he was IUGR, and from the type of IUGR he had it looked as though there was probably something chromosomally wrong with him. I was admitted to antepartum, and was told that I could possibly have my baby any day, or that I could be in the hospital for up to 9 weeks on bed rest and monitoring (they just wanted me to get to 34 weeks). It was literally so much information to take in all at once I thought my head was going to explode. The unknown was so scary, yet the known was just as scary (if you Google absent end diastolic flow and IUGR you’ll know what I’m talking about).
At first I was freaking out about my baby boy. I didn’t know a lot about preemies at the time, but I knew that at 25 weeks he was just on the brink of survival. I had no clue what it would mean to have a baby born at 25 weeks…but what was even more devastating was the thought that something was wrong with him, and they didn’t know exactly what yet.
Then I started to freak out about being in the hospital for 9 weeks. As you all know I’m extremely active and love to be outdoors. The thought of being cooped up in a room for over two months was downright depressing to me. To be completely honest, I was terrified of getting swollen and fat and losing all of my muscle- everything I had worked so hard to maintain during my pregnancy. I could truthfully say during those first couple days I did not want to spend 9 weeks in the hospital, but the day my baby was born I would have given anything for 9 more weeks on bedrest to let him grow. I hear pregnant woman complain all the time about how big and uncomfortable they are in the last couple of weeks. Be thankful that your baby is big and healthy, which is why you’re big, and that you made it that far.
To make a long and difficult story short, I only lasted 10 days on antepartum before they had to deliver baby Kingston. Kingston was born at 26 weeks and 2 days and was 1 lb 3 oz. He was a micropreemie. If you ever have time and are curious about what some NICU parents go through, Google and read about micropreemies…you will be in complete shock and awe about the amount of obstacles these babies overcome to survive.
Kingston spent 104 days in the NICU, and it was probably the hardest 104 days of my life. Every day felt like a year. I was emotionally drained each day, only to wake back up and have to do it all over again. During this time Kingston “coded” (stopped breathing, and heart rate dropped very low requiring resuscitation) 3 times. He was on a breathing machine for 2 months. He had to have heart surgery to close a hole in his heart. It was extremely stressful and painful to watch my baby grow outside of the womb, when he was supposed to still be inside for another 3 months. I spent day in and day out at his bedside watching him fight.
It was heartbreaking to go home from the hospital and leave my baby there, never knowing if he would die when I wasn’t there. Healing on the postpartum floor and watching new moms push their newborn babies around was one of the most agonizing experiences I’ve ever gone through. That was supposed to be me. I wanted my baby healthy and with me, but he was downstairs struggling to survive. One minute he was safe inside me where I could feel every kick and movement, and the next we were separated by a clear plastic cage, wires, tubes, machines, and alarms. I had to wait two days to touch him and two weeks to hold him. Every time I had to leave him, every time he was too unstable to hold or touch, every time we got a phone call in the middle of the night saying something went wrong, a little piece of my heart broke.
Although Kingston’s birth and NICU stay were traumatic, there was also a lot of good that came from them. God brought our friends and community together. Our family bonded in a way that only happens during tragedy. To see the love of God poured out on my family through everyone around me, through their prayers, giving, letters, meals, etc, was so surreal. I’ve never experienced the love and mercy of God like I have in this past year. I know we would’ve never made it if it wasn’t for all of the prayers lifted up for us and Kingston.
So after Kingston came home everything’s back to normal right? No haha!! Not only have we been adjusting to having a newborn baby at home, but a preemie baby. For the first 3 ½ months Kingston was home he had to be on isolation because it was flu and RSV season. Because of his prematurity and growth restriction Kingston has chronic lung disease. If he caught any sort of respiratory infection he could’ve ended up back in the hospital on ventilator and possibly die. This meant we couldn’t take him out in public and we had to limit visitors. He had weekly weight check-ups, eye appointments, physical therapy evaluations, RSV shots every month, and the list goes on. He developed very bad reflux and goes through periods where he doesn’t want to eat. We started seeing a gastro intestinal specialist, he has weekly feeding therapy, and is on a lot of medications. All of this to say usually when a micropreemie comes home the stress is not over. They give preemies two years to catch up in growth and motor skills, but Kingston is almost a year old and is still the size of a 3-4 month old. So the stress that weighs on my husband and I when he won’t eat or drink his bottles is extreme to say the least.
When I get angry, stressed, or frustrated I try and remember that it wasn’t that long ago I was pleading with God for Kingston’s survival. I know that despite our difficulties, things could’ve turned out way, way, way worse. Kingston is a happy and pretty much healthy baby. He is so full of curiosity and joy. Although I’m extremely frustrated many days, I’m also so proud of my son and how much he has fought to be where he is today. Most babies double their birth weight by age one and he is almost 14x what he weighed when he was born. He is a miracle.
So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the past year, I’ve been taking care of my miracle baby. Yes, I’m still working out regularly. Yes, I’m still baking up a storm (check out @_taylormadetreats_ on IG). No, I don’t make pretty meals for Instagram anymore, because I don’t have the time or energy haha. I bake because the kitchen is my happy place, and I can’t wait to teach my son how to make all of my recipes. I can’t wait to spoil him and his friends with fresh cookies after school every week. I go to the gym now because it’s “my” time and my stress reducer. I know there are more important things than constantly worrying about what my body looks like. I have someone else to worry about now. When my son was in the hospital it revealed a whole new world of hurting people to me. I realized that there are many, many people suffering just as much or even more than I was. I want to be a woman who spends my time thinking about ways to help people and involved in people’s lives, not consumed by thoughts of my weight and food. Yes, I still lift weights, because there’s room for balance. We have to have hobbies and time for ourselves in order to be the best version of ourselves for others. I’m realizing that my disordered thoughts about eating and working out will probably never go away, but over time it has become easier and easier to replace them with thoughts that matter- like helping the hurting and broken.
That’s the thing about trials and tragedy…they reveal who we really are and what’s most important to us. They are a heart check, a soul check. But it’s up to us to choose change, to choose to become better.
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer is God.” – Dostoevsky