Our adopted son was a preemie

During the adoption process, a lot of emphasis is put on the health of the unborn child.  As adoptive parents, you are given a very long check list where you may state which medical conditions you are able to accept and which ones you are not. This ranges from TB, HIV, Alcohol Foetal Syndrome and Downs Syndrome, right through to family history of cancer and heart disease and lots in between.

We had decided that as we had a choice we would prefer a healthy baby and we adopted our son the day he was born. It was the best and scariest day of our lives.

The day we got the call to say our son had been born was the most incredible and surreal day for us. When the social worker called and told us, we were overjoyed, unfortunately there was a but. He was born at 31 weeks, weighing 1.4kg and he was on a ventilator. Did we still want him?

Despite all the talks, all the forms and all the time spent on deciding to get a healthy baby, our response was instant yes! Of course we wanted him. We hadn’t met him yet but we had waited so long for him and he was our son and he needed us.

What followed was a month in ICU with so many ups and downs. Not only did we have to adjust to becoming parents in an instant, we had to learn a lot about premature babies. 

Kangaroo care

All the staff in the neonatal ICU were amazing. We were not allowed to hold him for the first 2 days but on day 3, we got to start with Kangaroo Care. This is when the baby is placed heart-to-heart and skin-to-skin on the parent’s chest. The direct heartbeat from the mom or dad helps to grow the baby and make him stronger.

We could tube feed him which meant holding 10ml of milk in a syringe above his head and watching it trickle through the tube and into his nose.

For the next month, he had great days and awful days. Premature babies take 2 steps forward, 3 steps back, 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Every hour, every gram put on or lost, every 10 ml of milk consumed, it is all counted and at all determines how the baby is doing. 

We had a couple of frights along the way with his heart acting up and warranting a strong course of caffeine, and his sleep apnea alarm going off from time to time. He made it out of the incubator after 2 weeks, only to go back in the next day for another week!

The hospital staff taught us how to bath him, feed him, change him, medicate him and be calm around him. They dished out lots of hugs and lots of empathy and they made our month-long stay as easy as possible. 

Slowly, our little fighter worked his way from the open incubator to the closed incubator and into a crib.

After exactly 1 month in ICU, we were finally allowed to bring our 1.9kg baby boy home with us. 

Our long-awaited family had become a reality!

Was your baby born premature? Tell us about your experience?

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