Today is World Prematurity Day. According to the March of Dimes, premature birth costs society more than $26 billion a year and takes a high toll on families. It is the #1 killer of newborns. Today, J&J mom Hanna shares how she faced the surprising reality of having a premature baby.
Thursday, October 18, 2012 was a normal day for me at the J&J office in Finland. I was 31 weeks pregnant. I was feeling good, exercising, and very happy to find out that we were expecting a little boy. We were also having fun renovating our new home in anticipation of our baby’s arrival.
My lower back was hurting the whole day and I remember complaining a bit, even though I was wearing a brand new pregnancy dress I had bought the day. As it turned out, it would be the only time I wore that dress.
By 10PM that evening, I started getting contractions. I went to bed, but the contractions continued. We called the hospital and were told to come in right away.
At the hospital, we learned that I had already started dilating. I immediately got medication to stop the contractions and a cortisone injection to help strengthen our little boy’s undeveloped lungs. I was told to lie down as much as possible, and was moved by ambulance to the hospital in Helsinki for treatment.
I was still confident that the contractions would end and we would go home a few hours later. This didn’t happen. I continued having contractions for four more days. The hospital staff concluded that they had done everything they can to stop this birth. The baby wanted to come out, and they could do nothing more.
A few hours later, with the help of all of the team (and me,) little Neo was born.
I had been told that he would be rushed away to the neo-natal intensive care immediately, but he was breathing and doing well so I got to hold him on my chest for a little while. That was amazing! My boyfriend got to cut the umbilical cord, then Neo was taken away.
I spent 2 more days in the hospital. At night, I laid awake, silently crying. This was not what I was expecting. This was not how it was supposed to be. It was not what we planned. The baby should still be in my stomach, not alone in a box under blue light in the children’s hospital. It was tough to see other mothers in the hospital with their babies.
On day three, Neo was moved from intensive care unit to a normal neo-natal unit at another hospital. I was released from the hospital that same day. We spent the whole day by his bed, but in the evening we had to go home.
As my boyfriend and I left the hospital without Neo, I watched other new parents leaving with their babies. They looked happy. I cried and cried. I felt like something was stolen from me. Someone took away my pregnancy, someone stole my baby who had been kicking in my stomach.
The following month was spent in the hospital caring for Neo during the daytime and returning home without him each night. We all were very tired. Finally, after 4 weeks, we got to take little Neo home with us and that was one of the happiest days!
Neo has grown into an amazing, sweet and funny 2 year- old boy. He grew very fast and has caught up to other kids in the same age very quickly. Those feelings that someone had taken away my pregnancy have been replaced by happiness that we have a healthy child.
Now we are expecting two small twin girls in February. I hope they will stay inside of me as long as possible, but if they do come early, we are prepared and know what to expect. And for now, I’m enjoying wearing that pregnancy dress again.
Hanna Lytz lives in Helsinki, Finland with her German boyfriend and two year old son. Hanna has worked for Johnson & Johnson since 2006 in various positions, most recently as account manager for Biosense Webster in Finland. She returned from a 1 year 10 months maternity leave in August and will be off again very soon.