This is Sander. He was born at 30 weeks and 2 days at Legacy Emanuel in 2013. We had no reason to suspect his early arrival and were shocked when my water broke two days before he was born. We still don’t know why he arrived so soon, but we like to think he just couldn’t wait to meet us. The hardest part of being in the NICU was feeling like I should be there every second, and feeling like my world had stopped, but realizing the rest of the world kept going. I tried really hard to overcome those feelings and the challenges of the experience by taking time away from the NICU for myself and getting help from friends and family with some routine tasks.

My second son is Ashton, and he came earlier than his brother. He was born at 29 weeks and 3 days because of placenta previa and was born via emergency C-section at Legacy Emanuel in 2016. This time I knew what to expect in the NICU and was frustrated by the experience, but not quite as terrified. It was a different challenge the second time around. Ashton spent eight weeks in the NICU and needed a lot more help with his breathing than Sander. It was also more challenging to try to care for Sander at home while balancing Ashton’s needs in the NICU. Having a toddler at home that I usually care for full time forced me to schedule my time with each child, and I never felt like I spent enough time with either one. I was constantly back and forth between home and the hospital which was exhausting.

Now that we have been home a number of months, we’re getting used to life with two preemies. I find myself less worried about their long-term health but still disappointed that I ended up in the NICU the second time. We are thankful that both our boys seem healthy despite their early struggles.

I’m really glad to be a part of NFNW because it’s great to have other families that understand what the experience is like. If I had any advice to give others struggling with their time in the NICU, it would be to seek out support in whatever way you can, and remember you are not alone.

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