In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.
In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.
Our twins Rahul and Leila were born at 31 weeks gestation, in Hong Kong, where I temporarily moved from Chengdu for their birth and initial care. Only my husband Maher, and I were allowed to visit the babies in the NICU.
2 weeks after they were born Maher returned to work in Chengdu. He would fly into HK every Friday evening though, for the weekend.
These are some of the messages I sent to him, Houda (my mother-in-law), and my parents from the hospital over the next month. I was only allowed to send messages from outside the NICU unit. Some days I couldn’t get myself to go out and leave the babies alone any longer than I already did, so I’d sneak into one of the breastfeeding cubicles that were set apart from the rooms where the babies were, and I’d secretly turn on my phone for a couple of minutes, scramble to send a quick update to Maher in Chengdu, and to the grandparents who were at the apartment with me in HK.
They were recovered from Houda’s phone well after we had returned to Chengdu. Unfortunately, the dates were not saved.
Rahul came home after 3 weeks in the NICU, Leila after 6.
Leila is better. They will start feeding her again soon. She weighs 1480 (kg). Not aspirating undigested milk anymore. No stool yet though. Rahul is fine. Quite sleepy this morning.
They started feeding Leila again at 10 am. [There was a fear that Leila had caught a dangerous infection in her gut so they briefly stopped feeding her.]
Rahul is 1910 (kg) now, and he is difficult with me on the breast! Doesn’t eat and then when he does it takes ages to burp him:) Leila is tolerating the milk rather well. She ate from the bottle again very well. Still no stool though. 36 hours now. Can you see if you can buy baby monitors to keep near the baby with a system so I can hear them in my room if they cry. [Rahul was going home soon.]
Leila is doing good. Big bowel opening this morning Eating 13-14ml now.
Leila is good. Eating 16-18ml. She had medium size stool last night at 3 am. She seems calm. Belly slightly distended but soft so it is ok. They are aspirating some undigested milk as usual. How is Rahul? [He went home already and was taken care of by his grandmothers teta Houda and nani Varsha.]
Leila is eating 20ml. Digesting well. She is calm right now. Sleeping.
Did Rahul eat and shit? What consistency? [He was at home.]
Leila is ok. Still eating upto 20. I haven’t had the chance to get more info. Rahul had a bath. He was very calm. He weighs 2010. [He went back to the hospital for an ROP Retinopathy of Prematurity test.]
Leila is eating 20 ml every 2 hours like before. She looks bigger. They will weigh her tomorrow. Will ask again if I can hold her. Nothing else.
Maher prefers cousa (zucchini) to chicken. But he likes basela (peas). [Houda trying to decide what to cook one Friday for Maher when he came to HK.]
Leila is good:) Did Rahul eat? Is he calm?
Maher said feed him (Rahul) if he is hungry. Maher has all night to feed him. [A Friday afternoon. Maher came to the hospital to see Leila and would later go home to see Rahul.]
Is he eating now?!
She is good. Eating 20ml. Still a little distended. Weighs 1645.
Leila is much better. Eating 23 ml. After a glycerine tube insert she shat many times in the last day.
She weighs 1665 and is eating 26. Looks good.
She is good. Eating 28 and they want to give her the bottle [as opposed to the feeding tube] a little more often.
Everything is good. He weighs 2705 and should eat between 90 and 120.
She is very good. No tube in her mouth. Everything else same.
She is good. Eating 30 to 35.
Is he eating now? The next time he gets hungry give him some formula pls. Thanks. [I was still at the hospital so couldn’t get him breastmilk in time.]
She is in a crib with no wires. She weighs 1855 and she breast fed really well. She didn’t swallow a lot but sucked well. Prepare a crib for her at home soon
She is good. Same same.
She is ok. Eating 45! Weighing 1935. Temperature is still a little low. [She was in a crib now and had to regulate her own body temperature.]
Natasha is mum of 4-year-old fraternal twins Leila and Rahul. She moved to Koh Samui, Thailand, with her children after spending 7 years in China. Her husband Maher, travels back and forth because work is in China. She has started practicing her yoga more regularly again, and even teaches a few classes a week, after a three year break. She blogs at her personal site Our Little Yogis and at Multicultural Mothering.