Friday, March 8, 2013
Born at 31 weeks - now covered in kisses. 

A dress is just a dress... unless it's not. To many pregnant women maternity clothes are a burden. Something they are stuck with until they can fit back into their regular clothes. To a preemie mom they are a reminder of what she didn't have. A big belly which housed and protected a full term baby.

I was about six months pregnant when I had to buy a dress for a big work function. While shopping I found "the dress" that I had to have for my baby shower. The shower was supposed to be a surprise but there were enough hints going around that I knew it was eventually coming. When I tried on the dress I imagined myself at my shower surrounded by my friends and family with my big belly filling out the loose fitting dress. It was strange to me because I never had this feeling while I was shopping for my wedding dress. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones but tears filled my eyes in the dressing room of that maternity store and when the manager came to see if I was alright or needed anything she laughed and said "I guess you like the dress?"

I took the dress home and hung it in the closet where it waited for the day I could wear it. I never took the tags off because I didn't want to be tempted to wear it for any other occasion. That was in May 2012... the tags are still on the dress. I unexpectedly had my son one month later.

This picture was right after I gave birth... they surprised me and allowed me to hold him for a few seconds. I was a mess because they had told me I would not be allowed to see him because he would be rushed to NICU. It was the most special surprise of my life. 

I had a relatively easy pregnancy. I didn't get sick and hadn't gained a lot of weight. My husband and I went on a "babymoon" that was planned before we got pregnant and while we were there my feet swelled but I thought it was the walking and bad food I indulged in. My blood pressure always stayed low until one night when I was reading and started to see spots. I knew immediately something was wrong. My doctors told me to go to triage immediately "just to be checked out." There they diagnosed me with severe pre-eclampsia. I was on strict hospital bed rest for what felt like weeks but was really only four days. They had me hooked up to monitors and IV's and monitored me around the clock. My baby never showed a sign of distress which was a huge relief. Everyone at the hospital told me I'd be there for a few weeks, which I later found out this was a lie to keep me calm... I guess it worked because my blood pressure returned to normal. They were able to administer the two steroid injections for my baby's lungs before telling me I was being induced. During this time I was oblivious to the fact that I was in danger. My amazing husband was my rock and worried for both of us so I could focus on keeping calm and holding out as long as I could. One conversation I clearly remember through the haze of emotions and drugs was picking baby names. We had decided on our girl's name before we were even married but we hadn't decided on a name for a son. We picked Evan which was fitting because we later found out that it meant young fighter and he was both of these things.

This is when he was one day old. I was still on bed rest so I hadn't seen him since the delivery room although our family was able to see him. 

Our son came into the world eight weeks and two days premature. Preemie moms do that if you didn't notice. We measure in days when others measure in weeks or months and measure in cc's or ounces when others measure in pounds. Evan was born in June and my shower was scheduled for two weeks later. Immediately I heard the questions. "Do we still have it?" "Would she want to go?" I pulled my mom to the side and told her that I overheard the questions and that I would need a reprieve from the weeks of NICU time I had ahead of me and it would be nice to see friends and family. I had no idea how hard that day would be from leaving my son for the day in NICU to realizing I could not wear my dress.

This is when they finally wheeled me in to see him. I was bawling and scared. I had seen pictures but I didn't know exactly what to expect when I first saw the NICU. I don't think anyone can be prepared for that moment. 

On the day of the shower we went to see our son and I kissed him and held him and cried. It broke my heart that I had to leave him for the shower but I couldn't back out. On the way to the shower we pulled over in a residential area so that I could pump. It felt so unnatural pumping before my baby shower... I was supposed to still be pregnant. I also made my husband take me shopping on the way to the shower to buy another outfit. I hated every outfit I had and there was good reason. I had been dreaming of that day in the dress I picked months before. Nothing felt right.

The shower was beautiful. I laughed and cried and thanked everyone for their love and support and warned them of the battles ahead. Sanitizing for months. Locking down over the winter. Not meeting Evan until he was a few months older than they expected. As beautiful as the shower was I could not wait to leave and hold my son again. That night I saw the dress peaking out from the back of my closet. I closed the closet door and tried to forget about the dress.

This is our first family picture. It was taken when Evan was four days old and Tim was doing Kangaroo care with him.
A few months later I decided it was time to pack away my maternity clothes. I remember packing them up wondering if I'd ever wear them again and thinking that I should still be in them. Most of the clothes meant nothing to me. A pair of jeans that I wore once or twice, a dress that never fit quite right, or a skirt that was too short anyway. But then I got to the dress. It was as beautiful as I remembered and still had those damn tags hanging on it. I sat on the floor crying. By this time my son was home with us and my husband came upstairs thinking something had happened to him. I felt stupid telling him that I was crying over a dress but he didn't say anything and just hugged me. There were many of those moments in the months after Evan was born. Times I would cry over seemingly nothing or sob uncontrollably over good things. It broke my heart that the dress never got its day to shine. I had let down my son and I let down that dress... or at least that is how it felt to me at the time.

Shortly after that night I went to a baby shower for a friend. This was a big step for me and was harder than I ever let on. I walked into the shower and the sister of the mother of honor was also pregnant ... wearing MY dress. No it wasn't really my dress but it was the same one. Worn by someone else... at another shower. I wanted to run out of the doors and cry and go home but I stayed strong and tried not to look at the dress the entire time. I felt rude but if she had any idea what was going on in my head she would have understood.

Finally, a picture taken to celebrate being nine months old.  I cannot believe how big he is getting and when I look back at pictures of where we started it's hard to believe he's the same tiny little boy in those pictures! 

Recently my husband and I discussed having another child... eventually. After Evan was born my husband said no more kids. After seeing me and his child both at risk he couldn't handle it. But after a few months with our son we knew we had to go through the rollercoaster again. Of course the thought of it all is scary. Will the baby be early? Will the baby be healthy? Will I be safe and healthy? Will I finally get my big belly? We cannot answer these questions. But there is one question I know the answer to. Will the tags finally be torn off that dress? YES!


Amy Engel said...

I cried reading your story because it is so similar to mine. I had a very uneventful pregnancy until the day my water broke. Maggie was born nine hours later at 31 weeks 3 days on March 2, 2012. My shower was scheduled for March 4th, the day I was discharged from the hospital. I too decided to have my shower although I wish I hadn't. I was very emotional and the the whole shower was a blur. I did decide to wear my dress because we didn't have time to stop and buy something, so I had nothing else to wear. I had bought accessories to match, but instead threw on a scarf to hide my fat, but not pregnant belly. I gave all of the accessories away so I didn't have to look at them anymore. I hope one day you get to wear that dress over a very pregnant belly. Thanks for sharing your story.

Kat JPierce said...

Oh wow! Thank you for sharing this story! I am going through an experience so similar it is scary! My LO came at 30 wks via c-section, because I suddenly developed severe preeclampsia. That 24 hrs before I got to see her was the hardest of my life. I sobbed so hard that first time they wheeled me in to see her! She is 35 wks now, and we are still in the NICU. I had such a hard time at her shower. Everyone kept saying how cute & tiny the newborn sized clothes were, and all I could think was, "how will she ever fit into these?" I have that I'm still supposed tobe pregnant moment nearly every day. Thank you for sharing. It is encouraging to hear a story like mine that has turned out so happily. :) Congratulations on your beautiful son!

Sankar Kumar said...

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Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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