My Preterm Delivery Story by Claudia
That December morning had started as many others over the previous months: I was 29 weeks pregnant, feeling better than ever and already head over heels in love with the baby boy inside me. I had just gotten up, ready for the day, when I suddenly felt wet.
I didn’t know yet, but that was the beginning of a chain reaction of events. My water had broken, so unexpectedly early, and even if I was still in complete denial, step by step I realized I was going to have a preterm delivery. Inside me there was a whirlwind of emotions, but above all I was scared for the baby and for the chances he could have to survive without consequences.
When I got to the ER, after a complete check-up in which the doctors reassured me about the baby’s health, I was told that, since I had not gone into labor yet, they were going to keep me in hospital for as many days as possible – as long as my water lasted without risks for the baby – so that I could go on some more time for the baby’s sake.
The following days were a roller coaster ride of feelings and situations until my delivery was scheduled – two weeks after everything had started. For the baby it was getting safer to come out and face the world. I was 31 weeks pregnant, exactly two months before my due date.
It is odd how of the following days I have some indelible memories while something else is a complete blur. What I will never forget is when I saw my son’s face for the first time, only a few seconds, and then he was immediately taken to the newborn intensive care unit.
What is so blurry, instead, is all the mix of voices and people around me, friends who came with gifts for me and the baby, others who didn’t bring me anything because “with a premature birth you never know if you can celebrate or not”. Every time I overheard such words, I felt a pang in my heart, I was hurting so much inside that it seemed overwhelming and I kept on asking myself so many questions it was almost unbearable. Wasn’t I a mother like the others? Didn’t I have the right to hold and breastfeed my baby?
While he was still fighting to survive and I was still reeeling from the shock of his sudden arrival, I had to endure the ignorance and indelicacy of too many people who thought you are a mother only if you deliver your baby on your exact due date and take your son/daughter home in three, four days at the most. It took me two months to finally be able to hold my baby comfortably on my sofa, but that moment was the day he was born again, like another birthday to celebrate in future years.
I was so lucky to have my family who really supported me all along the journey with its many ups and downs: that was the most precious gift of all. Whenever I felt inadequate and guilty, it was only the love I felt around me that made the difference making the wounds of my body and soul heal faster.
What I learnt is that if all the mothers in the world need reassurance and help at the beginning of their adventure with their babies, mothers of premature children need extra love and care.
Claudia, high school teacher, mother, wife. I enjoy reading, writing poems, travelling whenever I have the chance. My son is now 10 years old, turning 11 this December. He is crazy for Cars and every type of Lego. Of his early struggle for life he has obviously no memory, but one day will come when I will show him all the photographs I took when he was in the NICU’s incubator and some journals I wrote. To make him never forget how special he is. And for me to keep in mind that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.