When I was 33 weeks pregnant I developed preeclampsia and severe HELLP syndrome. My daughter was delivered at 33 weeks 3 days weighing 3# 12 oz and we were both lucky to be alive. She spent the first 32 days her of life in the NICU and it was without a doubt the hardest experience we have ever been through. All things considered she did very well, but it was still heartbreaking to have to leave her behind in the hospital each night and go home without her. I was admitted to the hospital on Thanksgiving, she was born a few days later, and didn't come home until several days after New Years. We were so so lucky to receive wonderful medical care and the amazing NICU nurses and doctors made it easier to leave her when we had to, knowing she would be in great hands. We sat by her bedside for the majority of each day that month, watching her learn how to suck, swallow, and breathe at the same time, celebrating every gram of weight gained, and watching her eyelashes grow in. Her first baths were done with gauze and water under the warmer, one limb at a time. Soon she graduated to a "real tubbie," being washed in a small plastic shoe-box. Initially her tiny diapers had to be weighed to make sure she was urinating enough. I pumped around the clock, doing the one thing I could to take care of her. Parenthood in the NICU is different than anything you ever imagine when you find out you are pregnant or all the months you spend dreaming of the future. Our whole world changed when our daughter arrived 7 weeks early, but we still learned how to be parents in the NICU, different though it may have been.
When I was pregnant I was gifted a Kickee Pants outfit - I wasn't aware of the brand before that, but it was the softest material I had ever felt and we were instantly hooked. Layla didn't get to wear that first Kickee outfit for a long time - for her first Christmas she actually wore an outfit from Build-a-Bear because she was so small, and her original Kickee outfit still fit her at her second Christmas a year later. This year, her third Christmas, we of course had to buy another set of special Christmas Kickee pajamas for her, and it's now become one of our favorite traditions. I want to thank you for what you are doing for preemie families - when we would drive home from the hospital and see the Christmas lights and decorations up I remember being shocked in a way that the world had kept moving. Every small act of kindness during our time in the hospital meant so much to us, and now each Christmas we make sure to bring some small gifts to families spending their baby's first Christmas in the hospital to pay it forward. Layla is now 2 years 4 months old and the sweetest, most energetic, determined little girl you'll ever meet. The only lasting effect of prematurity so far is a bit of a speech delay but she continues to grow and learn something new every day. My daughter is my hero and I couldn't be more proud of her fight.
#KicKeeGivesBack #NICU4U #KPspreadtheLOVE