I Am Strong {Premature Birth and 109 Days in NICU}

by Svea Boyda-Vikander on April 28, 2014

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.

NICU

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.

hands on love

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

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.

one year

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!”

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa Joines April 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I admire your strength. I’m so glad you and your baby girl made it through all of that.

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Adita April 29, 2014 at 1:34 am

Wow! Heartbreaking, but with a happy ending! As I was reading I was dreading the worst! So happy that everything worked out for the best! Not the way you had wanted by any means, but I’m sure it made you an even better person because of it! Thanks for sharing!! You ARE strong, I agree!

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kitty April 29, 2014 at 1:44 am

right with you! day 102 in Nicu for us today. well done, it certainly is the hardest thing i have ever done. we are super strong!!

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Heidi April 29, 2014 at 7:43 pm

You are more than strong! Amazing and your daughter is a true little miracle. Good job mama :)

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Jennifer Degl April 29, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Congrats to this family! All preemies are miracles. It is a beautifully written post! My daughter Joy was born at 23 weeks last year. Due to modern medicine and prayers she is doing great today. I hemorrhaged at 17 weeks for the first of 4 times because of 100% placenta previa, which turned into placenta accreta (which I believe was caused by 3 prior c-sections). After she came home from 121 days in the NICU, I wrote a memoir called “From Hope To Joy” about my life-threatening
 pregnancy and my daughter’s 4 months in the NICU (with my 3 young sons at 
home), which is now available on both the Amazon and Barnes&Noble websites. It was quite a roller 
coaster that I am certain some of you have been on or are currently riding on. My mission is to provide hope to women struggling with
 high-risk pregnancies, encourage expectant mothers to educate themselves before 
electing cesarean deliveries, provide families of premature babies a realistic 
look at what lies ahead in their NICU journey, and show that miracles can 
happen, and hope can turn into joy.
 Please see my website http://www.micropreemie.net and http://www.facebook.com/jenniferdegl and watch our amazing video of my daughter’s miracle birth and life at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_hleySg-iU

Thank you.

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ZuShanna April 29, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story and your syrength with us…You are such an encouragement! Thanking God for you and your family!

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Stephanie May 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Such a beautiful family. We currently have a baby in the NICU. Little Arya was born at 28 weeks on March 5th. Keeping our fingers crossed that she will be home this month.

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LaNeshe (Nesheaholic.com) May 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

So beautiful.

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Kevin L. Merriweather June 22, 2014 at 2:39 am

Congratulations! I admire your strength. Happy to see a beautiful family.

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