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

I Did Everything Right

Fact: You can do everything right during your pregnancy and still have a preemie.

pregnancy, NICU, prematurity, NICU family voices, hand to hold, preemie babies 101

I have never smoked a cigarette a day in my life. I have never used drugs of any kind. My life was not filled with stress. I eat a balanced diet, and I am a fairly active person. During my pregnancy, I did not drink any alcohol.

I did not “work too hard” or overly exert myself. I never took more than a few sips of ginger ale. The caffeine and coffee withdrawal was real. I participated in prenatal care. I did not find out I was pregnant “too late,” and I followed the doctor’s orders to the letter. I swore by those prenatal vitamins.

When I became pregnant, I was excited but willing to wait the 40 weeks to meet him.  I did not try to induce my own labor. We took the necessary precautions. I did not learn about my fibroids until the middle of my first trimester. I was told that their presence would not harm the baby. To only take Tylenol for the severe pain I was often in. I never missed a high risk appointment, and each one ended with the same four words, “Mom, everything is fine.”

Everything can seem fine, and you can still have a preterm baby.

When I went into labor at 23 weeks, I retraced the last six months like a mad woman. Where had I gone wrong? The baby was growing in my stomach, so there was no one else I could blame. We were facing preterm labor, and although the plan was to remain on hospital bedrest for the next few weeks I knew in my soul I would not make it. By the time I reached the hospital my little Jharid was in position. I was definitely going to have this baby soon. They said Jharid would be a micro-preemie.

I did not know what having a “micro-preemie” meant. But I was surely going to do my best to leave that hospital with one. The doctor instructed me to lie on my side, keep my legs elevated and relax. I performed those tasks to perfection. I barely moved. Food was taken out of the equation soon after. Still, I made sure to do as I was told. I listened; I prayed.

I did everything right, and I still had a preemie at 24 weeks gestation on Friday, April 27, 2012.

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Family and friends came to visit. I saw in their eyes the need to make sense of things, to find the mistake. I guess the lack of a mistake is hard to accept, because it brings us to reality.

Prematurity can actually happen to anyone.

There are habits and actions that do their best to prevent preterm birth, and also behaviors that can raise a mother’s risk of having her baby early. However, for the majority of us preemie moms, those factors weren’t our reality. We did not do anything different from every other pregnant mommy. Our baby’s prematurity was not our fault. It just happened.

Mom, your child being born premature is not your fault.

Don’t get me wrong, every premature birth has a cause, some underlying and often undetectable trigger that expels our babies from our bodies before due. And then there are other causes, also beyond a mother’s control, such as stress, an accident, being sick or living in poverty. Even still, most mothers of preemies do the best they can to ensure they deliver a healthy baby. They do what every other mother in the history of childbirth does. And sometimes, when we see moms not following the dos and don’ts as strictly as we did, we wonder, “Why are their bodies so strong?”

Well, the best answer I can come up with is, God determines birth dates, not us.

Yes, you can do everything right and have a preemie. And yes, you can do everything wrong and deliver full term. Some things about life we will never understand. As parents, our job is to enjoy our baby for however long we have them. And because they were born early, we have them for a little longer than originally planned.

Let’s change the perception around premature labor. Use #idideverythingright and share your preemie story on social media. It’s time for a truth campaign. Prematurity can happen to anyone.

Even those who do everything right.

And yes, even you.

prematurity can happen to anyone #idideverythingright hand to hold, NICU family voices, prematurity, NICU
Kaleena Berryman About Kaleena Berryman

Kaleena Berryman (NJ) is mom to Jharid, born at 24 weeks, in April 2012. After five months in the NICU battling complications such as ROP, BPD, Grade 3 brain bleeds and NEC, Jharid came home to his mom and dad a healthy, happy, thriving boy. Even though “Mom” is her most treasured title, Kaleena is also a writer, poet, mentor, and Program Coordinator for the Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers Newark. She wants to help other preemie parents develop their advocacy voice. Kaleena has a B.S. in Communication from William Paterson University and a M.S. in Public Administration from Rutgers University. She is the founder of a preemie parent support blog. Connect with her on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Michelle HenselMichelle Hensel says:

    I love this! This is needed. It is empowering to so many of us preemie moms. I’ve already shared on my FB page. Thank you for writing this and for giving preemie moms a voice to say #idideverythingright

  2. While I was in the NICU with our daughter, I ran into so many moms who have this unearned sense of guilt about their child being in the NICU. Thank you for writing this and putting into words what many moms need to hear: #idideverythingright

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