Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

{Friday Feature} A Summer Called Angel

Meet Sola Olu who is the mother of two children born premature. She is the author of a memoir, The Summer Called Angel, and shares how she and her husband held on to hope for 7 months while their daughter weighing 1.15 ounces at birth was cared for in two NICUs, endured multiple complications, and is now a healthy, thriving 8 year old. By sharing her family’s journey with prematurity, she hopes to encourage fellow NICU moms and give hope.

What were the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth?

“My journey to motherhood began with a siren flashing, horn-blaring ambulance ride to a specialist hospital across town. Within a day, everything I had imagined for the birth of my child changed.” That is the start of my memoir–The Summer Called Angel–a story of hope on the journey through prematurity, but that is the circumstance surrounding the birth of my first child.

Angel O

Angel at one day old

I had gone in for a routine appointment the day that I turned 28 weeks. My blood pressure was high, fluctuating between 160/100 and 195/120. The hospital did not have a NICU for babies that young, and so I was transferred to a different hospital.

My daughter was delivered via emergency c-section that night. I was shocked. My whole family was shocked. My pregnancy up to that point had been uneventful.

I would also end up having a second pre-eclamptic pregnancy with my son being delivered at 33 weeks.

What complications, diagnoses or surgeries did you or your child face?

I developed high blood pressure post-delivery.My first child would face a PDA ligation surgery as well as pneumonia, ventilation and most terrifying, a NEC scare that perforated her intestines and would require three surgeries to fix and an extensive hospital stay spanning months.

My second child, also born early at 33 weeks, was fine.

How old is your child or children now and how are they doing?

Angel O

Angel at one year old

Miracles do happen. My daughter, Angel, is 8 years old and is in 3rd grade, and my little boy, Lani, is 5 and is a kindergartner.

My daughter had early intervention for physical, occupational and speech (feeding issues) therapy. Both required early childhood services, and my daughter went on to an IEP until 2ndgrade. She has asthma and allergies, but other than that, they are both healthy and doing great.

How did your whole family cope with this experience? How are you all doing now?

My husband and I fully supported each other. Our friends and family were great and kept up with the calls, helping any way they could. Both sets of parents visited and stayed to help. We prayed a lot, even though we were assailed by doubts and despair at times and weren’t quite sure what to pray for. We held on to hope that there would somehow be an end to our long journey in the NICU.

What did you learn about this experience that you’d like to pass on to others?

Lani O

Lani at 1 week old.

Just to be hopeful until the last moment…sometimes I wanted to give up, but the doctors themselves said they never give up hope. It is very hard and very emotional and draining, but hang in there and look forward to times when you will one day laugh.

Be involved in all aspects of your child’s care and ask lots of questions. Get a second or third opinion if needed.

Is there anything else we need to know?

I went on to publish a memoir based on my experience, The Summer Called Angel, a story of hope on the journey through prematurity. It  is available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or my website www.solaolu.com.

I also volunteer through my local hospital as a counselor to parents of premature babies.

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