Motherhood Blog Interview Series: Surviving Pre-eclampsia as a First-Time Mom and Birthing/Caring for a Preterm Baby.

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Surviving Pre-eclampsia as A First-Time Mom and Birthing/Caring for a Preterm Baby

Oneinspiredmum: Good day ma’am. We are so excited to have you here.

Guest: Thank you. I am glad to be here.

Oneinspiredmum: Firstly, we have some quick questions we will like to ask you. Here we go.

Quick fire questions

1. What book are you currently reading?

Guest: I am presently reading When a Hug Won’t Fix the Hurt : Walking Your Child Through Crisis – Karen Dockrey

2. Who or What inspires you?

Guest: My Dad is the biggest influence in my Life. He inspired and still inspires me even after his demise.

3. What does motherhood mean to you?

Guest: To me motherhood is full-time ministry and responsibility. From the moment you conceive, God hands over to you, the life and destiny of your child. So it is your duty to ensure they turn out right and fulfil their mandate.

So over to our Main Questions.

1. Can you tell us who you are?

Guest: My name is Precious James Ogbonna. I am an Early Childhood Educator, Phonics Tutor and the Founder of Parent Up Africa, a parenting literacy platform. Join my community here.

2. Please give us a little insight into your story.

Guest: I was 30-weeks pregnant when I began to have nagging headaches. I took some drugs and decided to rest. I was later told that my husband rushed me to the hospital unconscious when I began to have seizures. I woke up two days later and noticed I was no longer pregnant. An emergency C-section was carried out and my baby was born premature.

 (For confidential reasons, we sometimes take out our guest’s name as requested by her. I stated to my interviewees when I contacted them, that you can choose to be seen or remain anonymous and I will surely respect that choice.)

3. At what point in your pregnancy were you diagnosed as having pre-eclampsia?

Guest: I was not fully diagnosed of Pre-eclampsia until 29-weeks into my pregnancy. This happened during one of my ante-natal checks. The nurses noticed that my blood pressure was slightly higher than normal. So, I was advised to rest and placed on some anti-hypertensive drugs.

4. Can you take us through some of the symptoms you had and how you were able to navigate your pregnancy journey?

Guest: My pre -eclampsia was not fully diagnosed on time. But I remember having swollen feet, even though the doctors said it was not a problem. But then, my blood pressure became slightly higher than usual. It went back to normal and then went up again. This led to the Eclampsia.

This is Motherhood Voices – Stories and lessons from a mother’s heart

5. You once shared about going unconscious at 30-weeks pregnant. Can you share that part of your story with us?

Guest: Yes, I was unconscious for about two days. At about 30-weeks into my pregnancy, exactly on the 27th of December 2018, I woke up with a nagging headache. I took some drugs to calm the headache down, but the drugs did not help.

So, I decided to call my doctor and he prescribed another drug which I took. Fast forward to the evening of that day, my sight became blurry and I started feeling weak. I ignored the signs thinking it was the usual pregnancy symptoms.

I decided to rest and slept off, only to wake up two days later in the C-section ward of the University of Uyo teaching hospital – precisely on the 29th of December. I was told that I had eclampsia which causes pregnant women to have seizures and fits. Obviously an emergency C-section was carried out on me to save my life and that of my baby.

6. What was the first thing you said when you regained consciousness?

Guest: The first thing I said when I regained consciousness was this, “Mummy, what are you doing here? “ I was surprised to see her in Uyo because she lived in the eastern part of the country.

7. Your baby was born at 30-weeks. What was it like meeting her for the first time?

Guest: When I saw my baby for the first time, I had mixed feelings. I was happy that I had a daughter, but on the other hand, I was overwhelmed when I saw how tiny she was.

8. Tell us about the ‘incubator room’ experience. What is it like for a mother to watch her baby in an incubator?

Guest: My experience in the ‘Special Baby Care Unit’ was like nothing I had ever experienced in my entire life. It takes a lot of courage and will-power to watch your baby lying in an incubator helpless.

You are unable to touch and feed her. And this can take a mental and emotional toll on you as a new mom. It was heart-breaking when I first saw her in the incubator. But as each day passed , I got used to seeing her there and also accepted my new role as a Preemie mom.

This is Motherhood Voices – Stories and lessons from a mother’s heart

9. Did you have fears? Did you feel like giving up at any time during that season of your life?

Guest: Of course, I had numerous fears. When she battled with weight gain, I almost lost faith. When she was suspected of having the medical condition – Necrotizing Entecorolitis , also sepsis and cranial bleeding, it took a lot of faith to hang on and not give up.

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a medical condition where a portion of the bowel dies. It typically occurs in newborns that are either premature or otherwise unwell. Symptoms may include poor feeding, bloating, decreased activity, blood in the stool, or vomiting of bile.

When other babies were coming out of the incubator and she was not, I wanted to throw in the towel. There were so many phases through her journey that I almost gave up. But, I thank God for giving me the strength to hold on in faith.

10. Where did you draw strength and courage from in that season?

Guest: I drew faith from the word of God, music and from my hubby. Also from family, friends and while looking at pictures of Preemie babies who were now grown. That alone gave me so much hope and strength.

11. I once met a pre-term baby and I saw first hand all the rules, routines and precautions involved in caring for them. Take us through your own journey as mom to a preemie baby.

Guest: The caution, care and routine of nurturing a premature baby is very detailed and tedious.

1. Feeding: Since premature babies have very low birth weight, their feeding should be regular. In my case, I fed my baby every 2 hours round the clock.

2. Warmth: Preemie babies have low body fat, so you will need to ensure they are always in a warm environment and not exposed to any form of cold.

Other precautions include taking their vital checks e.g temperature, sterilizing their feeding units, ensuring you do not expose them to too many visitors and never compromising on cleanliness.

12. What are some of the health challenges preterm babies face or are susceptible to? Did your baby have any health challenge?

Guest: My baby did not face any major setback as a result of being born premature. Preterm babies usually face a lot of health challenges. And because they are born premature, they have low immunity and are susceptible to falling ill. They may also have developmental delays. Some preemie babies may even have more serious health challenges like Cerebral Palsy, Autism and Learning disorders.

13. Are preterm babies slower when it comes to hitting major milestones during their developmental journey?

Guest: I will say Yes and No. I said that because some preemie babies catch up really fast in their developmental journey. You will even hardly ever know that they were born premature.

But there are others that have slight to major delays that would need therapy. So, it totally depends on how early the baby came, the condition at birth and how they were cared for while in the hospital.

14. What is the most challenging part of being a mother to a preterm baby?

Guest: When you are a Preemie Mom, it is quite challenging from the start – but let me speak from a personal perspective.

For me, the most challenging part was when my daughter was in the incubator for 54 days. She was battling with different illnesses and it looked like she had little or no hope of surviving. It was hell for me in those 54 days.

This is Motherhood Voices – Sharing Everyday Motherhood Stories 

15. What has been your most memorable experience in this motherhood journey?

Guest: My most memorable experience on this journey as a Preemie Mom are those times she hit major milestones and gained more weight. Also seeing her healthy and happy. These are the little things that full-term mothers take for granted. I never took any of those milestones for granted. It always meant a whole lot to me,

16. With your experience of surviving preeclampsia, what advice can you give to pregnant women and what are the classic signs of eclampsia that they should look out for during their pregnancy?

Guest: I will advice pregnant women not to take any feeling they have in their bodies for granted. If you feel something is wrong with you, insist on being checked or monitored even when your doctors downplay your concern. Also be on the look out for some of these symptoms of Eclampsia – swollen feet, high blood pressure, protein in urine and nagging constant headaches.

17. Who and what was your greatest support system in that season of your life?

Guest: My family and friends were a very strong support system for me – especially my hubby, dad, mum and sisters.

18. How old is your daughter now and how has this experience changed you?

Guest: My daughter is 20-months old which is her actual age and 18-months which is her calculated age.

This experience has made me stronger, helped me to appreciate the miracle of having a baby and taught me to always be grateful to God.

19. What is your greatest lesson from that season of your life?

Guest: The greatest lesson I learnt is this. And this is for everyone going through a tough time not just preemie moms. And it is that tough times do not last but tough people do. Remain strong, stay hopeful and you will come out at the other side victorious. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

This is Motherhood Voices – Stories and lessons from a mother’s heart

20. Share with us three things you think every preterm mother should know.

Guest: Please read this if you are in the NICU/SCBU as a new mom.

1. Always ask questions, don’t assume the medical personnel are doing all and everything right. Observe things and call their attention to whatever you think they are not doing right.

2. It is definitely a challenging time for you as a mother, please take care of your mental and emotional health. Find a solid support system and try to rest as much as you can.

3. Trust in the lord at all times because he is always by your side.

21. Your final word for everyone.

Guest: If you read till this point, you are the real MVP. Thank you so much for taking out time to read my story.
And please if you ever come across any Preemie mom or a mother with a sick baby, always show them love. They always need lots of love and support at that point.

Lastly, I want to say thank you Mrs Ufuoma Fijabi for letting me share my story with your community. God bless you.

Oneinspiredmum: Thank you ma’am for sharing your story with us on this edition of Motherhood Voices. We appreciate you.

Guest: Thank you for having me on board here. I do not take it for granted.

Did you get a lesson or two from our guest’s story?

Or perhaps you are strengthened and encouraged by her story.

Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section or feel free to reach out to us through the contact segment of the blog.

You can also send us a mail here – oneinspiredmum@gmail.com, if  you think you have a story or experience to share. We will be excited to share your story with our audience.

Until next time.

Love and light.

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