Nicole M. shares the story of her incredible strength and how she endured her daughter’s premature birth and early separation.
“I am strong because after a traumatic birth experience with my son we still wanted to expand our family.
I am strong because after the devastating loss of a pregnancy in 2011 we surprisingly found out we were expecting again. I am strong because I spent the first five months of that pregnancy alone with my three year-old son and two dogs, maintaining the house and working full time while my hubby was working in another province 36hrs away.
I am strong because less than one month after my husband returned home (injured) I was admitted to the hospital for dangerously high blood pressure. I was told I would be there for the next 3.5 months until my daughter was born. I was strong because I was going to do this for my daughter, even if that meant being away from my son, my husband and my home and even though it broke my heart. My perfect birth plan was put on the back burner and I was going to do whatever it took to protect my baby.
I am strong because after five days in the hospital I found out my condition was worsening and the only possible way to save my baby and survive myself would be an emergency C-section. I was strong at 2:45pm on November 30th 2012: while I was intubated and unconscious my precious baby girl came into this world weighing only 1lb2oz’s (500grams).
I am strong because I was not able to hear, see or touch my baby after her birth. It was hours before I got to go look at her through the windows of her incubator; to see her tiny, pink, perfect body attached to many wires, monitors and tubes. I am strong because I was put in a maternity wing surrounded by crying newborns and happy mommies for the next four days, only getting to see my daughter for minutes at a time. Unable to hold, hug or feed her.
The only thing I could do was pump colostrum for my princess until my milk came in.
I am strong because after four days I was discharged from the hospital without my newborn baby. Having to leave her in the hands of complete strangers.
I am strong because for the next 109 days I traveled to that hospital NICU to spend as much time as I possibly could with my daughter, watching her struggle, have machines breath for her, battle infections, drop her heart rate or forget to breathe.
I listened to doctors tell me the worst case scenario for every obstacle. I had to wait 24 LONG days before I could hold my daughter and from that day on I held her as often as I was “allowed” and as long as I could.
I am strong because I have seen my daughter’s heart rate and respiratory rate drop to dangerously low numbers as I held her in my loving arms and stimulated her to remind her to breathe. I am strong because even though it was extremely difficult, I learned to breast feed my tiny princess while continuing to pump for her every three hours.
I am strong because after 109 days in the NICU we were finally told we could bring our daughter home! She came home with us on March 19th 2013, 10 days after she was due to be born, 10 days after I thought I would have a “normal” and amazing childbirth to my second and last child.
I am strong because I sat up all night with my daughter for two weeks straight because she had her days and nights mixed up from the NICU. I still spent the days playing with my three year-old son. I am strong because even when she decided to sleep at night I didn’t, because I would spend my nights watching her, always worrying now that she didn’t have any alarms or monitors to warn us when something was wrong, always checking to see if she was breathing.
I am strong because I pumped breast milk for my daughter for 15 months. I am strong because more than 16 months after her birth, I struggle with PTSD and anxiety but still push through to be strong for my kiddos, show them how to have fun and enjoy the world.
I am strong because even though things didn’t go as expected, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I have the perfect family all with me under one roof and appreciate every second of every day that God has to offer me.
We are Nicole, Adam, Ashton and Alexis McCullough and WE ARE STRONG!”