Those last few weeks #WPD2014

Elsie Rose is three weeks and 3 days old. For each of the 24 days that she has been alive, we have been thankful for her. For her strength and her courage, and her stamina too. We are thankful that we were given a few extra weeks of a stressful pregnancy. We know that things could have been so different for her, and for us. Those last few weeks made a huge difference.

those last few weeks_ wpd2014~Ghostwritermummy.co.uk

The first time the doctors told us they wanted to deliver our baby prematurely was a huge shock.

We were used to pregnancies that lasted at least 41 weeks, if not 42 and a couple of extra days on top. I was prepared for a baby in late November, even entertained ideas of sharing my birthday. A baby delivered at 34 weeks terrified us.

This baby was IUGR. Growth restricted. Deprived of oxygen and nutrients, so that internal organs were immature. Too small. Not ready. Better out than in.

At 34 weeks growths scans estimated the baby to weigh around 3lb.

At 34 weeks our baby would fair better than very premature babies, but less well than the average 34 weeker, due to the growth restriction.

At 34 weeks our baby would require time in the special care baby unit, a part of the hospital we had been lucky enough to avoid so far.

At 34 weeks we would not take our baby home as soon as we were used to.

At 34 weeks, my body was not ready to deliver.

At 34 weeks, I still had 8 more weeks of pregnancy left to go. I needed more time.

I got more time.

those last few weeks_ 37 weeks_wpd2014~Ghostwritermummy.co.uk

We were lucky. It was decided that we would get those extra weeks. Baby was to be delivered at 37 weeks.

We were told then, and are still told now, that 37 weeks is ‘term’.  Despite new research and guidelines stating that 39 weeks is now considered full term, we are still told that 37 weeks is ok to deliver a baby. And our hospital policy was that babies with IUGR, well under the 10th percentile for growth (on a customised growth chart) are to be delivered no later than 37 weeks. And so it was to be.

At 37 weeks, our baby was born weighing a respectable 5lb 5- but considerably less than the ‘average’ baby born at that gestation.

At 37 weeks, our baby did not need time in the special care unit, by the skin of her teeth.

At 37 weeks our baby was able to come home with us the next day, despite hindsight telling us for sure she should have stayed a little longer.

At 37 weeks, my body was not ready to deliver.

At 37 weeks, I still had 5 weeks of pregnancy left to go.

I needed more time.

My baby was not premature. But my baby was not ready. And today, on World Prematurity Day I know that we were incredibly lucky to have made it to 37 weeks rather than 34 weeks. We know that there is much to be learned, still, about what causes premature birth. We also know that there is a lot to be said for those last few weeks.

Late premature babies are not the same as full term babies. Early term babies, as Elsie is classed, are not the same as full term babies. Early term babies with IUGR as very like late premature babies. It is hard to get people to understand this.

On discharge from the hospital, Elsie was unable to maintain her body temperature. She was unable to regulate her blood sugars. These are things that the average 37 week old baby is able to do.

Steroid injections prior to delivery helped to mature her lungs, which almost certainly kept her out of the special care baby unit.

Elsie has found feeding difficult. Once her tiny mouth was able to latch on, sucking quickly exhausted her and at three weeks old she still only feeds for around 5 minutes at a time. Before she was a week old, Elsie did not open her eyes, nor did she wake up to feed. Now, she will wake for a feed, but she is still too small and too tired to feed for long. Her weight loss after birth was significant enough to warrant the threat of tube feeding in the hospital. Today, she is still not really keeping up on the percentiles of the growth charts, so that threat is still very real.

Those last few weeks make all the difference. Babies who are born too early, no matter how early that is, need a little extra care. They need a little extra understanding. They need a little extra time. To find their feet in the world. To make their mark. To discover what it’s all about.

We were lucky. Our baby made it to 37 weeks where many do not. Our baby came home straight away, where many cannot, and too many never do. Our baby’s additional needs are- so far- minimal, where many will need special care for a long time. We were lucky, and so we are spending this day thinking of all the families who were not so lucky. Of the precious babies who are simply too small, and too sick. Of the babies who were not quite so small, or quite so sick. Of the babies who are misunderstood.

Those last few weeks make a huge difference.

those last few weeks_ newborn_wpd2014~Ghostwritermummy.co.uk

Be educated on premature birth: MAMA Academy, Bliss, March of Dimes

Be educated on IUGR: Magic Foundation, IUGR Awareness

Be educated on World Prematurity Day 2014: like the Facebook page, Donate to Bliss, Join the coversation on Twitter with #WPD2014

Share your story: I’d love to hear your story- please leave a comment.

31 Comments

  1. November 17, 2014 / 2:16 pm

    I remember feeling a little more relieved with every week that went by. As well as everything else that was going on with baby I was suffering with polyhydramnios so the risk of going into labour prematurely was very real. I remember the moment they started talking about delivering the baby prematurely rather than miscarrying I nearly cried with happiness! Luckily I got to the planned induction date at 38 weeks which I think really help Sam find strength to fight in his first few days of his life xx
    A lovely post xx

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 17, 2014 / 6:58 pm

      Thanks lovely. That threat of premature delivery is so scary isn’t it? I remember your pregnancy so well and its so lovely we both have beautiful babies to show for it all x x x

  2. November 17, 2014 / 4:57 pm

    Beautiful post. Not enough is discussed around these babies who are kind of on the cusp, for want of a better word, of prematurity and full term. While Elsie didn’t need hospital special care, she has needed special care at home, which I have no doubt has caused you additional anxiety making sure your little one is healthy and has everything she needs. xxx
    Leigh Kendall recently posted..Preemie parents get help from new Tommy’s AppMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 17, 2014 / 6:56 pm

      Thank you. It’s been hard trying to explain that to people since we brought her home x x x

  3. November 19, 2014 / 2:27 pm

    What a beautiful baby. I am so broody now. I am so glad you got the extra weeks. I had my daughter at 37 weeks too. I bet it must have been such a scary unknown time for you but glad you have your beautiful baby now. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted..Share With Me ~ wk 42My Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:57 pm

      Ah thanks lovely, it has been a rollercoaster but things are settling down now x x

  4. November 20, 2014 / 9:54 am

    So very glad that you got those extra weeks to give your beautiful baby girl the very best chance.

    And this is an article that everyone should read, because I did not know that 39 weeks is now considered the start of term: NONE of my babies made it that far, and number one daughter who was born weighing 5lbs 3oz at 38 weeks (she had growth problems too) also struggled to keep warm. Of course she’s now a super healthy 22 year old University student, so her slightly rocky start is not a bother to her now xx
    Looking for Blue Sky recently posted..Is that all there is? Because carers deserve betterMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:55 pm

      I think there is too much about IUGR that people don’t understand, and unfortunately I am finding out that that includes health professionals too. I never thought 37 weeks was early but now I know only too well that the longer they stay inside the better! x x x

  5. November 20, 2014 / 5:25 pm

    I’m so glad everything turned out ok and I hope Elsie continues to go from strength to strength!
    I delivered both my daughter’s by planned c-sections at 38 weeks, it was only with my youngest that I had steriod injections to prepare her lungs as 39 weeks is now considered term. My midwife explained that many babies born at 37/38 weeks by c-section or induction can have some difficulties. We were very fortunate.
    Xx
    JoyandPops recently posted..Stillbirth – The Story Always Rumbles On.My Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:54 pm

      We were also fortunate. I am SO glad we also had the steroids as I’m sure we’d have had to stay in longer if we hadn’t. Thank you so much for your comment 🙂 x x x

  6. November 20, 2014 / 5:37 pm

    Such an emotional and beautiful post. I am a little ignorant of IUGR, I suppose because it hasn’t affected me directly. But the more I read about it, the more I thank everyday for my little boy and how lucky we were. I’m glad all is well with Elsie but it must have been such a worrying time for you and your family.
    My son was 4lbs13 and I was 2 weeks overdue. My placenta had failed… so I was the other way round but the doctors just didn’t know it… When I look back now, he was such a fighter and I was able to go home with him after 4 days but it was a tough 6 months for me as he fought to grow and catch up with a normal weight. Anyway, thanks for educating me more today, I feel like I’ve learnt something important xx
    Ting at My Travel Monkey recently posted..Time Travel Thursdays: Indian Moments Part ThreeMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:53 pm

      Hello, I can’t believe that if your son was so small at 42 weeks you were never told about IUGR. It’s a shame that so many health professionals don’t know enough about it, especially as it is one of the main causes of stillbirth. I am so glad your son is ok though, and thank you for your lovely comment x x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:51 pm

      It is a worry. Her IUGR makes her a little different and I hope that my post explained it ok. These babies are worth it though! x x x

  7. November 20, 2014 / 10:07 pm

    Gosh, what a scary time for all of you. I’m so glad you got to take Elsie home the next day and she is generally well. I didn’t know many of the things about early babies that you’ve written here, and I’d always thought that babies born at 37 weeks were the same as 40 week babies- wrong! Thanks for informing me on a subject I admit I know little about. Hope you’re getting into the swing of things now- she’s such a little beaut! xx
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper recently posted..Freddie’s Christmas WishlistMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:50 pm

      Ah thanks lovely. We are getting there slowly but surely 🙂 x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:50 pm

      Me too. I really wanted more but at least we escaped special care x x x

  8. November 21, 2014 / 3:29 pm

    What a stressful time you must be having. Especially as you have always gone beyond the 40 weeks before. Sounds like you’re doing a great job though. Well done super mummy!
    A Little Lyrical recently posted..A Photo A Day – 21st NovemberMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 21, 2014 / 4:47 pm

      Elsie continues to be a learning curve that’s for sure! Thanks so much for your lovely comment x x x

  9. November 21, 2014 / 9:55 pm

    Such precious miracles whenever they arrive. I hope you are both settling in. My bf was born and 26 weeks and was in hospital for his first 6 months, crazy! I hope you are looking forward to a special family christmas xx

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 24, 2014 / 7:11 am

      Thank you, we can’t wait x x x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 24, 2014 / 7:10 am

      Thank you 🙂 x x

  10. November 21, 2014 / 11:05 pm

    So glad you managed to get all those weeks with her inside. Every week was like a huge hurdle. You’ve made me realise something about Z too. He was born at 5lb 5 too and would fall asleep so quickly when feeding. At the time I just couldn’t understand why and it’s dawned on me from reading this that he was probably tired out. She is so lovely, can’t believe she’s 3 weeks already!

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 24, 2014 / 7:10 am

      Ah bless him. Yes, the tiny birth weight makes a real difference for them. Was he early or just small? x x

  11. November 23, 2014 / 11:07 pm

    I am so glad that you got those extra weeks, but your comments on the fact that even with those extra weeks she is still an IUGR baby are so important. I have to admit this is something I didn’t know much about until I started following your journey with Elsie. A beautifully written and really important post x
    Sara (@mumturnedmom) recently posted..The Prompt: Week 45My Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 24, 2014 / 7:08 am

      Thanks lovely. I think unless you’re affected, IUGR isn’t really something that people know much about. I hope I can change that as there are so many babies affected, and the affects can last into adulthood too x x x

  12. November 24, 2014 / 3:00 pm

    Massive congratulations, I love her name. Where have I been this past month, I was following your progress up until about a month ago and then I have come across this post, I have some catch up reading to do! So glad you made it a bit further and that she was able to come home with you, I hope that she continues to get stronger and grow. My first daughter was born at 37 weeks weighing 5lb 14 ( small due to high blood pressure and pre eclampsia) and was tiny for a long time but as soon as she hit one year old she began to catch up, she is now 5 and bang on average. Like you say there is a reason she is little and needed to be born and they should not compare her to a ‘normal’ (for want of a better word) baby. x #sharewithme
    Loving life with little ones recently posted..5 months pregnant- scans, specialists and scary momentsMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      November 24, 2014 / 3:36 pm

      Ah thanks lovely 🙂 She is doing really well now and growing slowly but surely x x

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