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

6 Things Every Expectant Parent Should Do to Prepare for Preterm Birth

By Darline Turner-Lee, mother to preemie Vanessa and founder of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond

As a parent of a late-term preemie, I found myself completely unprepared for the emotional fallout after my child was born early and with breathing problems. Term births are considered pregnancies carried to 40 weeks. Babies born at 37 week gestation or earlier are considered premature. Even though I had been at risk and was very nearly on bedrest at several different points during my pregnancy, the topic of a neonatal ICU (NICU) stay never entered the conversation. I worked in the medical field for many years and still felt unprepared for my child’s stay. I sincerely wish my OB and I could have discussed these possibilities in advance. If you are pregnant, here are some tips and questions to help you prepare your own backup plan in case your child is born earlier than expected or with complications. [Read more]

Expecting After a Preemie: A Worrier’s Journey to Joy

Over the years, my wife has asked me many questions seconds after I fall asleep. Typically her questions cycle through the topics of shutting the garage, taking out the trash, locking the front door, or hearing a sound outside. Her timing is impeccable.

“Do you think Sloane will be a good big sister?”

This was a new one.

Despite its uniqueness, I handled the question exactly as I would any other as I drifted off to sleep: I plugged it into my mental autopilot answer-creating algorithm. While it sounds fancy, it’s actually pretty simple. All I have to do is not think about the question, quickly generate three facts that may or may not be valid, grunt out a single word response, and resume sleeping. It is a technique I have mastered to combat my wife’s sleep depriving precision.

For this question, my brain considered the following facts:

Fact: Sloane is an only child and only grandchild.

Fact: Sloane has a great-grandmother, three grandmothers, and two grandfathers all living within ten minutes of her.

Fact: Sloane has twenty-two pairs of shoes. Sloane doesn’t wear shoes.

My subconscious formed its conclusion: In her eleven months on earth, Sloane has been the lead singer in a solo band and has enjoyed every second of it. Move over Celine, we have a new diva in the making. This was an easy one. I chose my single-word response, grunted “nope,” and drifted off to the sweet sounds of Celine singing “My Heart Will Go On.” When my wife didn’t respond, the safety feature in my mental autopilot answer-creating algorithm kicked in. I roused and uttered the word, “why.”

I haven’t slept since. [Read more]

Being Aware of Preeclampsia

With May being Preeclampsia Awareness Month, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of this dangerous disease.

What is preeclampsia?

From preeclampsia.org:

Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. Affecting at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

It also accounts for 15% of all premature births in the United States. I know these facts because last May I sat in the hospital after having my son at 31 weeks of pregnancy. I remember thinking that I was painfully aware of preeclampsia. [Read more]

A Letter to NICU parents

Dear NICU parent, First of all, congratulations on bringing life into this world! I don’t know how you got to this point. Whether your labor was long or short. Whether this moment was a surprise or a day that you have been anticipating after months on bedrest. I do know that it is ok to […]

You Are Not Alone

It’s a topic people don’t often talk about, infertility. It can be considered a “taboo” subject, yet it’s much more common than you may realize. 3 years ago, I was pregnant with triplets. That’s when I decided to go public with my struggles to get pregnant, and I soon learned that I wasn’t alone.

It’s ironic to look back at my life and see my plans for children. I spend my 20’s worrying about getting pregnant, but when I hit my 30’s, I tried everything to get pregnant, without any luck. I never thought in a million years that I would have trouble conceiving when I was ready. But month after month, that pregnancy test came back negative. And every month, my heart sank a little deeper. [Read more]