July 3, 2002 started out as a normal day. We were living in Sudbury, Ontario as we relocated there from Kitchener, for my husband’s job. It was a warm, sunny day and our son Evan, who was 17 months old, was playing in the kitchen and we were getting ready to carry on with our day.
Evan was a healthy boy, born ten days late by C-section, on January 20, 2001 and weighed 9lbs 6oz. On July 3, 2002 I was 28 weeks pregnant, enjoying another great pregnancy. We already knew that this new baby would be a scheduled C-section for the beginning of September. The doctors had estimated this baby was to be born much bigger then Evan, at least, if not more then, 10 pounds!
I was gathering my belongings for the day when I just started to not feel well. A bit of a sore stomach and some nausea, which for me was not normal, so I decided to have a cup of tea and stay home from our normal morning activities. Around 3:30pm I just felt that something was not right. My doctor’s office in Sudbury was closed, and I decided to put Evan in the car, drive down to my husband’s job site, and get him to take me to the hospital. I remember clearly telling Darrell to just drop me off, I’m sure everything will be fine. He would go home and order a pizza and I would call him when I was done. When you live 6 hours away from all of your friends and family, you just had to get things done yourselves!
Once admitted, I started having a lot of stomach cramps. The doctors immediately hooked me up to a portable ultrasound machine and determined that this new baby was coming. The baby was already in a footling breach position and the cramps I was feeling were labor pains. I had experienced all back labor with Evan’s delivery, and that pain is truly unbearable. These stomach cramps, as I called them, were a breeze in comparison, so I was incredibly shocked to find out I was in full labor! The doctor sat on the edge of my bed and told me to call Darrell, have him come back right away. This baby is on its way. He was very up front in telling me this is a very serious situation, the baby when born will be taken immediately to NICU and we can only hope that for the baby’s health and best chances, that it is born at least close to 3 pounds. I called Darrell and he could not believe this news either. All this had taken place in such a short time frame, that the pizza he had ordered had not even been made yet, so he had to cancel their order!
Kristen “Taylor” Rees was born at 28 weeks gestation, by emergency C-section, only a few short hours later, at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Sudbury, weighing 3lbs 9 ounces. The news of her birth weight was very positive. I was not able to hold her right away, but Darrell was able to see her hooked up to all of her monitors in NICU only a short time later. Taylor was born a fighter. She was placed in her incubator that very night. This was the place she would call home for the next eight weeks, and was breathing on her own without any assistance.
It is the scariest thing to see your baby, whose whole head fits into the palm of your hand, hooked up to many, many wires with machines beeping and nurses around her at all times. I was taken into the recovery area and immediately started having a very intense headache. It was determined by the doctors that I was suffering from a “spinal headache” from the epidural. I was told that only about less than 3% of all epidurals result in this headache. I was taken the next morning for a procedure whereby blood is drawn from your arm and injected back into your spine. Immediately, this awful headache went away. Finally, I was well enough the next morning to be taken to see Taylor in Intensive Care. I have never been more scared in my entire life. So many machines beeping, and to see your newborn there, your heart just breaks. But, the nurses were amazing. They provided great comfort and reassurance to us as we transitioned from being in the hospital, to going home, leaving your newborn behind in the care of the hospital.
We made multiple trips back and forth to the hospital, each and every day. Darrell and I NEVER missed a day for eight weeks. Evan, who was 17months old, even knew the routine and what was required each and every time you entered the NICU. Taylor never once had any setbacks during her eight weeks in the hospital. We were very lucky in this regard. On August 31, 2002, we brought Taylor home! She weighed just over 5lbs! We were so relieved to finally have our family all home together.
Taylor was thriving at home, gaining weight and experiencing no setbacks in her growth. Unfortunately, I was not doing as well. I quickly realized that something was not right with how I was feeling and was diagnosed with extreme post-partum depression and anxiety. I was placed on anti-depressants and anxiety medications. After a few, very long weeks, the medication began to work and I was able to try and get back to a normal routine. Three years later, I was successfully off all medications thru healthy eating, vitamins and regular physical exercise.
Today, as I write this, Taylor is soon to turn 12 years old. She is 5 foot 7 inches tall, and is by far, a foot taller then everyone in her grade 6 class. She does not have any learning issues or developmental delays. She is a beautiful girl – both inside and out. She is a great friend, has a very outgoing personality, loves dance, art and this past year made her first ever rep sports team. Taylor played her first season with KW Lightning’s All Girls A Team and loved every minute of it. She has completed the babysitting course and is excited to start babysitting this summer. You would not know by looking at her, how tiny and fragile she once was!
We hope that if you are experiencing life with a preemie baby that you now know from our story, that you are not alone. I hope that Taylor’s story provides you with some reassurance and some hope and comfort.