Premmie Pumpkins: Little Miracles

22 Dec

42,000.  That’s the annual number of premature and sick newborn babies who need to be looked after in either a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN), throughout Australia.  Within this vast figure, 2 of these babies were mine.

Last week, I went to the Miracle Babies NurtureGroup Christmas get-together.  Catching up with other mothers of premature babies and seeing how much their munchkins have grown, I was compelled to write about those early days.  We have indeed come a long way.

I won’t lie.  This post is a particularly hard one to write.  It’s an exercise of re-tracing a journey that was full of anxiety, uncertainty and yet a LOT of hope.

Day 1: Little N

Little N and Little K were born 5 weeks premature.  At around 33 weeks, it was discovered that Little N had stopped growing (ie my placenta was just about going kaput) and due to the growth discrepancy between the twins, delivery was brought forward to 35 weeks.

Aware of our deep concern of what was to lie ahead, our obstetrician introduced us to one of the leading paediatricians at the NICU prior to the scheduled delivery date. To try and help ease our minds, he took us on a tour of the unit.

Same Day: Little K

There we stepped into a completely different world: Tiny babies in humidicribs, some connected to life support systems .  Tubes attached to small bodies, surrounded by midwives and doctors busily checking and monitoring each little patient.  There are the anxious parents vigilantly standing by.

It was then that I thought about how we live in a society where we naturally believe that bigger is better.  Cars, houses, bank accounts…and I realised that this mentality also applies to newborn babies.

Our chests swell up with pride when a “bouncing baby boy” is born well over the “average” birth weight.  Yet, we tend to shy ourselves away or left without words when, for instance, a friend, an acquaintance, or a relative announces that their little one has arrived 10 weeks early and weighing in at a fragile 820 gms.

At the last ultrasound, it was predicted that Little N’s birth weight would be around 1.6 kgs.  (A pip squeek !)  During the tour of the NICU, I specifically asked the paediatrician to show me a baby of a similar weight.  When he did, things started to shape into perspective for me.

I was one of the more fortunate mothers.  I had time to mentally prepare myself . There are some parents who don’t have that luxury.  Sometimes, Mother Nature takes its own course and without warning new parents are faced with their premature newborn suddenly having to learn a basic human instinct – how to survive.

So, on the 28th of January, 2010 at 10:33am, Little N was born at 1.8 kgs (a whopping 200 gms heavier than his predicted birth weight).  2 minutes later, Little K, our little “Fatty Boom-Bah” arrived at 2.5 kgs.

Day 2

Unlike mothers of full term babies, after I was discharged from the maternity ward, I went home, leaving our precious boys at the NICU.  I really can’t express in words how emotionally wrecked I was that day.  No new mother should ever have to leave a hospital without their babies.  It’s a heart-wrenching experience.

Day 5: Some skin-to-skin with Little N

Our boys were in NICU for 16 tough and extremely long days.  Some days there was progress.  On others, we would be at a standstill.  We just stayed focused, kept sticking to the routine and taking the advice from our paediatrcian and midwives as sacred.

Day 11

Almost 11 months later, we are – thankfully –  well and truly out of the danger zone.  Sure, the boys are still soldiering their way up the percentile graph.  But as a mum of premmie pumpkins, I decided to ignore whatever the books and all the “laws of baby averages” were dictating as far as what my children’s development should be.  Bugger it.

Instead, I take the time to pause and remind myself of Little N and K’s milestones – the early interaction, breast feeding, cooing, eating solids, crawling and more recently, their absolute delight in discovering each other’s existence.

While the twins are happily playing or crawling around and chasing each other, I look at them in awe and think, “Do you realise how far you two have come ?”

Despite their shaky start in life, I’m just grateful that my beautiful boys are healthy, happy and thriving.


8 Responses to “Premmie Pumpkins: Little Miracles”

  1. Bron Maund December 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Beautiful Grace – it is amazing to reflect back on the journey. They have come so far and yet this is only the beginning, this time next year it will be walking (or should i say running!) and talking – exciting times ahead!!

    • mamagrace71 December 22, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

      Thanks, Bron. Yeah, it really is amazing how far they’ve come. They’re learning to stand up now so walking won’t be long now…eeks !

      A big thanks and hug to you for being a part of the journey. It means a lot to us as a family.

      Hope to see you soon x

  2. Christine December 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    it will be an awesome story to tell when they grow up 🙂

    i read a book that was given to me not long ago called “serenade for a small family” about a woman who gave birth to premature twins —
    it’s an amazing book… i can lend it to you if you like! it really opened up my eyes to this whole world of what premature mothers go for and it is is so, so sad.. its something i’d never really consciously realised before.. but i guess for some women its a huge part of their reality of life..

    ps LOVE the day 11 pic.. they look sooo gorgeous and angelic!!

  3. mamagrace71 December 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    Wow, sounds like an amazing book ! Would love to borrow it sometime.

    It is sad, yet at the same time you deal with the best you can, with what you have. Then, when all is well and good…you are grateful and give lots and lots of thanks to the Man Above 🙂

    Yeah, Day 11 pic is one of our faves. We have it framed and sitting on our kitchen bench

    Thanks for dropping by and have a wonderful Christmas x

  4. Fiona January 8, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Wow Grace – thanks for sharing your experience – I’m really touched and can’t imagine what it would be like to leave hospital without your babies 😦 It’s funny how we just expect fathers to be able to do it, isn’t it?! Huge hug, Fi

    • mamagrace71 January 8, 2011 at 8:48 am #

      Hi Fi,
      You made a great point about dads. I remember my hubby was being silent and stoic. Yet, it was breaking his heart too.

      Thanks for reading.

      Happy New Year

      G x


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