Each year 13 million babies are born prematurely to parents who never expected their birth stories to be so challenging. This year we were one of those parents. During my pregnancy I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum at five weeks. Most people have never heard of this and few women will ever experience this sickness because it is so rare. I spent a good amount of my pregnancy at St. David’s hospital in Austin, Texas. For three of those months, I never left the hospital. Luckily, I have a very supportive husband and mother who came to visit me on a daily basis and spent many nights with me.
During those three months in the hospital, many of the nurses who helped me were neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurses and I had a special high risk doctor checking on my baby almost daily. That doctor constantly reassured me that if my baby was premature we would have the best care. My OBGYN and my high risk doctor prepared me for the fact that I may end up having an emergency C-section, that my baby would go straight to the NICU and that I may end up having to be discharged without my baby because she would still be in the NICU.
At 30 weeks, Avery stopped growing. They gave me two steroid shots to help her lungs develop in the event that she would be delivered at 32 weeks. Luckily she made it to 35 weeks. She ended up gaining some weight and was looking good but on Tuesday September 9, there was a complication with my placenta and my high risk doctor said he was notifying my OBGYN for an emergency C-section right away.
Avery Julie Devin Wonderlin was born September 9 at 5:05 pm via C-section weighing in at only 4 lbs 5 oz. My husband Mark was in the operating room with me at the time of delivery and my mom was in the waiting room. Mark went with Avery to the nursery after her birth and my mom got to see her through the glass window for the first time. While I was in the recovery room my mom told me that Avery had been taken to the NICU because she was having trouble breathing, she was underweight, and her oxygen levels were very low. I had some complications while in recovery so I did not get to hold or see Avery till 4:00 AM the following morning.
When I saw Avery for the first time, I started crying. She was hooked up on several machines and IVs. While Avery was in the NICU, we couldn’t see her anytime we wanted (visiting hours were limited). We had to scrub for three minutes every single time we wanted to see her and we couldn’t always hold her because she was isolated in an incubator. These were the things I wasn’t prepared for.
I knew I would be discharged within four days of having her and that she would stay behind, but I honestly had no idea how hard it would be to leave her. It was terrible. Avery could not latch and she really needed breast milk so I pumped 2-3 hours every single day. We drove to the hospital several times a day to feed her and spend time with her, I was still recovering from my C-section and now I had to go through the difficult time of not having my baby at home. After such a hard pregnancy, it was heartbreaking.
I am so thankful for my doctor, Diana Wang MD, my high risk doctor, Sina Haeri MD, my husband, Mark Wonderlin and my mom, Julie Gross (who my baby is named after). I am also thankful for the wonderful staff at St. David’s and their NICU. I truly would not have made it through this pregnancy without the help of each and every person in my life taking care of me and Avery.
Avery is now a thriving 2 month old with a big personality. Her smile lights up the room and she lights up our lives!