Our community is honoring the stories of our own Mamas within Our Village. Allyson Lindsley, shares with us her preemie journey with her daughter, Jayla. We are so grateful for Allyson to share with us her precious story. Please join us on Saturday, April 27th for the Portland March for Babies walk and/or make a donation to our teams fundraising effort here .
Jayla was born 6 weeks premature! My water actually broke in my 33rd week, but with some specific medication, they were able to keep me pregnant until 34 weeks. They also injected me with steroids and antibiotics to help her lung development and avoid infection.
We remember her being so tiny. There were a lot of nurses in the room when she was delivered, and some nurses were from the Seattle Children's Hospital on hand to help with any preemie-related issues. Before I had her, they talked a lot about what it's like to have a preemie and how long we should expect her there. In the back of my mind, I always knew she'd be healthy, but we were still worried. When she was born, I was able to bond with her for 10 minutes or so until they whisked her upstairs to the NICU - my husband went with her, and I stayed behind.
It was really weird to have a baby and not to hold her a lot. We stayed in the hospital for a few days, but then they sent us home. How weird was it to go home after having a baby with no baby. She stayed there for 18 days total. We visited her 3 times a day for a few hours at a time, and I pumped many times a day, and brought milk with me each time. I'm lucky my milk supply was so strong. It turns out she was super healthy - her only issue was strength. Premature babies need a lot of sleep so they don't have enough energy to feed, so mostly she was given tube feeding over the next few weeks until she mastered a bottle (a bottle is easier than a mom's breast). I pumped and fed her out of a bottle for 10 weeks until she finally mastered breast-feeding. It was really tiring! Despite the challenges, we were relieved she had no major health issues.
My advice for moms of preemies is stay patient and positive. It is so hard to hope for your baby to come home the next day and that doesn't happen. So know that they will come home, and they will come home when they're ready. Babies are stronger than you think! And if you have to pump, borrow a hospital grade pump. It's sooo much better than your regular pump and your milk supply should stay strong that way despite not being able to nurse. Also - I remember a nurse telling me that it's so important for a mom to get rest when their preemie is at the hospital. Your gut instinct is to stay at hospital all day, but it turns out, the nurses really do everything, and you can do only so much. So the best thing to do is make sure you keep your milk supply up. And if you have another baby, it's possible to deliver full-term. I received progesterone and regular ultrasounds and carried my second beyond 39 weeks!