* Age: 6 * Born at 36 weeks gestation *
At 17 when most teenagers are planning for their senior year of high school, their plans for college, and what they they'd like to achieve in life, I was busy planning how I was going to raise a child. I found out I was pregnant at the end of my junior year, and though I was actually quite okay with it, I was still completely scared out of my mind. At 7 wks along, on my way to school, I was in a car accident, prompting me to reveal to my mom much earlier than I had planned, that I was pregnant. Things were fine, thankfully, and my pregnancy continued on as any normal pregnancy would. I passed all the blood tests, I ate healthy, I exercised, and I made sure that I did everything my doctors told me to do, because we were all concerned that my young age could affect my unborn child.
On January 12, 2004, just 3 days before I was scheduled to graduate high school, things took an unexpected turn. It was by chance that I had been attending my second lamaze class at the hospital, when I informed the intructor that I felt as if I were leaking fluid. She immediately sent me to the maternity ward to be examined further, and it was revealed that I had developed an infection in my uterus, causing me to go into early labor. I was only 32 weeks along at the point, 3 days past my 18th birthday, and faced with the real possibility of an early delivery. Words cannot describe how terrified I was. The doctors admitted me, hooked me up to an IV, and began administering Magnesium in attempt to stop my labor from progressing. Three days later I was sent home with instructions of strict bed rest.
I was medicated to the point of taking ten pills a day, one set to keep me from going into labor, and another set to fight off the infection in my uterus. Bed rest only last two weeks before I was back in the hospital, once again trying to fight off an early delivery. After finding out that I was severely dehydrated, I was hospitalized for the night. An IV of fluids and a couple steroid shots later as a precaution to boost my unborn son's lungs, I was sent home yet again.
My third trip to the hospital, my doctor finally made the decision that it was in the best interest of me, and my son, that I deliver early. My boyfriend (now my husband) and I were terrified of the possibilities of having a child that was born a month earlier than he was supposed to be. To some, 36 weeks may seem close enough to full-term, but in reality, there is still so much more development to be done.
I was eventually induced and delivered my son on February 1, 2004 at 12:17pm. Alexander shocked both my family and the doctors, weighing in at 7lbs 14ozs, physically showing no signs that he was, in fact, premature. He did, however, have a fever at the time of delivery, and I was only allowed a few moments with him before he was sent off to the NICU. I was more fortunate than others I know, Alex only spent two days in the hospital, and was allowed to go home with me when I was discharged. It was a very long two days, as he was only allowed no more than an hour at a time in my room, typically only for feeding. I was not able to go to the NICU to see him, but I was grateful for any amount of time that I was given with him. I'll never know whether my car accident, the infection, or my age in general contributed to his early delivery, but I honestly wouldn't change a thing that happened.
Alex, overall, was a very healthy child, only minor issues developing due to his premature birth. It was later, when he became a toddler, that we noticed he was developmentally delayed compared to other children his age. I can proudly say, however, that after three years of speech therapies, occupational therapies, IEP's, and countless hours spent helping him catch up with his peers, Alex is completely mainstreamed with classmates. He's a typical first grader, who despite his diagnosis of Aspergers and ADHD, has been able to make me proud with how well he is excelling in the classroom and at home. I couldn't be more proud of him.