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

From the Other Side

I have a friend whom I just found out was pregnant 2 weeks ago.  Then, last week I heard that she was having twins, that she was on hospital bedrest and that she was only about 23 weeks pregnant.  My heart started to pound as the implications of what this meant sunk in:  she was in danger of delivering her twins at only 23 weeks.  I paid her a visit in the hospital as soon as I was able and found her in fairly good spirits and with a hopeful attitude.  Her cervix had stopped shortening, she was in bed, and the doctors were hoping she could make it to 30 weeks.  This was her first pregnancy and I was the only person she knew who had ever had a baby in the NICU.

Two days ago I called to wish her a “Happy 24 Weeks!” but was only able to leave a message.  A few hours later I received word that she had delivered her babies a few days earlier.

I am devastated and so frightened for her babies, not to mention heartsick for my friend and her husband.  As of two days ago both of her babies were still alive, and of course every day they conquer brings new hope.  I am not a very close friend or a family member, so I do not have the connections to receive regular updates or to show up unannounced and have her happy to see me.  I understand that right now she probably does not want to have many visitors besides her family (she has a lot of family close by).  I understand that she’s probably still in shock.  I understand that she’s probably frightened of her babies and overwhelmed by the NICU.  It’s because I understand so well what she might be feeling and the magnitude of the trauma she’s experiencing that I want to help so desperately!  But I’m outside of the circle and I feel helpless.  I can’t be there to explain the NICU to her, I can’t be there to empathize with her grief, and I can’t be there to make sure that she’s benefiting from all of the NICU resources available to her.

It’s very hard for me to wait.  I did send her one email to let her know that I’m concerned for her and praying for her and her babies, and I left a few vital resources that I hope she will take advantage of when she’s ready, but I don’t really expect her to care to check her emails right now, and I certainly don’t expect a response.  I’m just waiting to receive more news and hoping for an opportunity to bring over a meal.

It’s hard to be on this side of the experience.  It’s like all of a sudden I don’t know what the best thing is for me to do for her right now, although only days ago I was still leaving confident responses to others on how to help their loved ones.  Now I know someone personally, someone totally outside of my own experience, and it’s hit home in a way totally different from helping a stranger.

Have any of you watched a family member or friend have a preemie after your own experience?  If so, how were you able to help?  What did you learn from being on the other side?

I appreciate your comments and your prayers in behalf of my friend and her babies.

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.

Comments

  1. I think my friend might actually read this, because I referred her to this site!

    I met a girl at school (we were pumping buddies for our first babies) and we bonded over shared interests. We became Facebook friends and she followed my NICU journey when I had my son at 29.5 weeks due to pre-e/HELLP this past March.

    Fast forward a few months, and she’s put on bedrest at 24 weeks d/t high BP with her 2nd baby. After 5 weeks of bedrest she had a 29 weeker, just like I did, who was the exact same size my son was! (2lb 10 oz & 15 inches long.)

    I felt a pull to just BE there, just offer up my ear and she took me up on it. We tlkaed a lot on Facebook and on the phone and she told me that I just “GOT it” when others didn’t. I knew exactly what she was going through while others just had no idea what it was like to have to deliver early and experience the crazy rollercoaster of NICU life.

    I believe I helped her cope, but she actually helped me more than she’ll know. By “going through” it all again, via her experience, I was presented with a whole host of emotions about my son’s birth and my own preemie mom experience, which really opened my eyes to my need for some counseling to deal with some birth trauma and slight PTSD/postpartum anxiety. I am working on that now, and thankful that the feelings I had didn’t continue to lie dormant.

    Though I would never choose to be a preemie mama, I am SO glad I’ve gone through the experience if only just to help other mamas, and open up other people’s eyes about preemies. This can be an isolating world and I’m glad to provide support whenever I can!

    • Thank you for sharing. How amazing that your situations were so exactly alike! It must have been so wonderful to help her through it. I hope that as my friend’s trauma cools off I can be that needed voice for her.

  2. I have been lucky enough not to have any of my friends or family have preemies, but all 4 of my miracles were preemies and it does not get easier to face.

  3. I have had a few friends experience the same thing now and I think they have found a lot of comfort in talking about what is going on with their little ones because I think all of us will agree that until it happens to you, you just can’t totally “get it.” As difficult as it was I consider my preemie experience a blessing as well. It has allowed me to touch other lives in their time of despair, fear and need. While it may not have been as actively difficult as being that parent, I still cry during the scary and difficult times for them and rejoice in the good times and the milestones that are reached. I thank God everyday for my daughter and for the ability to touch others from our experiences.

  4. I had preemies and it was quite the experience. They had to be intubate for 48 hours, then on nasal cpap, etc. jaundice, Bradies and the usual preemies course. I found it astonishing that in our day of medical advances that the percentage of preemies is getting higher. I wonder why. Any research information on that? In any event, the twins are now almost 9 and doing well, but it was touch and go there for a while. My heart and prayers go out to all that have preemies and have to go through what it takes to get them healthy!

  5. my niece just had a 27wker, it was hard to revisit the nicu after I lost 1 of my twins. Now, I’m having a grandchild for the first time and I’m a nervous reck!?

  6. 2 couples that i know of had twins born pre-mature. my wife and i feel like experts on premature babies and the nicu. we are reminded by what our daughter (born at 2lbs, 14oz) went through and look at her now and say wow she was a preemie?

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