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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

tiny blessings : a preemie story by Ann-Marie Flayhan Patrick

Thank you so much to Ann-Marie Flayhan Patrick for sharing her courageous story of experiencing two premature births at 32 weeks each. She has two amazingly strong sweethearts to show for her hard work, but it was a scary time and one that caused so many emotions. I'm so in awe of her strength as a mother. I love her advice: let it out! Share your feelings and know you aren't alone. That's the whole purpose of me featuring these strong mommas, to show that this experience can be common and it's ok to feel however you feel, as others have been there, too.

Thanks, Ann-Marie!

Images shared from Ann-Marie Flayhan Patrick 

1. How far along were you when your baby came early?
Layla was born at 32 weeks on the dot and Nolan was born 32 weeks and 3 days.

2 What were the first thoughts or feelings you had when you realized the baby was coming?
With Layla I was scared and thought what do we do now? With Nolan it was “here we go again” and “why can’t I keep him in longer?” but I was calm during it all because I knew what was going to happen.

3. Can you share that part of the story - what happened? where were you? what did doctors say? procedures, things they tried to prevent the baby from coming, etc.?
Layla- I was sleeping and realized that I had wet my pants, figured I just didn’t make it on time so I went to the bathroom changed my pants went back to bed but checked to see if the bed was wet but it was dry so I didn’t think anything about it. Got up the next morning to get ready for work and realized I wet my pants again but it was a lot more wet so I called my Dr. she told me to come in for a quick check up, so my boyfriend and I went down and she took one look down there and said your water is slowly leaking and you need to go to the hospital now. They knew I was coming so the nurses were ready for me when I got there, I got my IV in and a steroid shot to help develop her lungs faster. They sent me up to Dartmouth via ambulance. When I got there they gave me another steroid shot and gave me an ultrasound, they told me that I had enough fluid to keep her in as long as they can they were hoping for at least another 3-4 weeks. All they could do was keep me in bed and so I was on strict bedrest and was only allowed to get up to use the bathroom. I lasted another week and then had to have her because I was starting to get an infection.

Nolan- I was doing the dishes when I felt my pants got wet, thinking I just splashed water from doing the dishes I just shrugged it off and kept going, then 5 minutes later it happened again but this time I knew it was my water breaking, it was a big gush and I wasn’t doing dishes. I had my daughter with me so I was trying not to overreact so I got my cell phone and went into the bathroom and called my Dr, she told me to get to the hospital. I realized that I didn’t have a ride and I didn’t think anyone was home so I kind of was freaking out inside because I knew I had to call 911 but I saw that my brother in-law was still home so I called him upstairs and told him what was going on, as a guy he was freaking out but got a hold of his Dad who was coming home to take me to the hospital, while he stayed home with Layla. I got to the hospital and the nurse was waiting for me and got me right into a room, they got my IV started and gave me a steroid shot, then got me on the monitors until the ambulance got here. We packed to go to Maine Med in Portland ME this time around. They gave me the other steroid shot and again I was put on bedrest with daily ultrasounds.

4. What were your fears as you heard the baby would be premature?
Layla- Was she going to make it are her lungs developed enough for her to breath on her own
Nolan- Was his lungs developed enough? Was he all around healthy?

5. What helped you through those initial scary moments?
With both of them my husband was my rock and the staff.

6. How would you describe a premature baby's birth and labor process? Give us a few words.
Labor was different with both my kids, Layla was rather long but when it came time to push it was a quick 3 pushes and she was born. With Nolan the labor process was quick and the pushing part was longer. Funny how no two labors are the same.

7. Does anyone know why this premature situation happened?
With Layla we still don’t know as to why she was premature, but with Nolan it was because I had bacterial vaganoses or BV as they call it, it caused me to start having hard enough contractions to break my water.

8. How did those few weeks after baby was born go? How long did you and then your child stay in the hospital? What was that process like?
It felt like an eternity until I got to have them home with us. Layla only had to stay two weeks in the NICU, one week up at Dartmouth and then a week at Wentworth. I stayed in the hospital after having Layla for 3 days. With Nolan he was is the NICU for 4 weeks, three weeks was up in Portland and the last week was at Wentworth, I stayed 3 days in the hospital after having him.

9. Are there any complications now or health concerns your child faces from being premature?
Layla has a lazy eye and has to have eye surgery this coming April as glasses haven’t helped correct it but is healthy otherwise.

Nolan has torticollis which is when the head becomes stiff or “stuck” in one direction, we go to physical therapy every other Tuesday and he has come a long way with being able to move his head and had started meeting much of his milestones.

10. What helped you get through this time? What did others say, do, give you, etc. to help you through it?

Honestly my family and friends helped me get through many rough times and a lot of praying. It wasn’t just one thing someone said or did really, but just by being by my side and letting me cry on their shoulders when I needed one.
11. What do you wish you had known about premature births before it happened to you?
How fast things can happen, one minute things can be fine and well, and then with a snap of a finger it can go downhill and change, and how emotionally draining it can be.

12. What is your advice to other moms who go through this?

Know that you do not have to go through this alone and don’t keep your emotions to yourself, let them out, let it all out! Tell them that you're scared or mad or sad because it will bottle up and come out in the wrong way if you just keep it in too long. 

They have groups you can go to or find that one friend or family member that you can just open up to, just don’t let yourself feel like your alone because you’re not.

13. How does your story have a happy ending? Describe your child, how things are for you all now.

I have two beautiful children who are smart and loving, and I just couldn’t imagine my life without them.

14. What did you learn about being a strong mother through this experience?
I learned that it's okay to ask for help, it's okay to break down and cry when you feel like it's the only thing you can do. I also learned that you do have a say in the care given to your child, I have a voice and need/can use it if I feel the need to step up and be the advocate for my child, that really empowered me as a mom to know that what I say has meaning and I can put my input in where it needs to be.

My babies depend on not only the Drs but on me as well to look out for their well being

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