Lauren Edwards was barely halfway through her pregnancy when her daughter, Ivy Lynnlee, was delivered by emergency C-section at 25 weeks at just 1.3 pounds and 11 inches long.
“When you’re pregnant, you always hear about preeclampsia/HELLP syndrome but never think of actually having it,” she wrote on Instagram on the day Ivy was born.
Lauren would quickly recover from the damage HELLP syndrome did to her body, but tiny Ivy would continue to fight in NICU for 99 days. Ultimately, Ivy went home on her due date at 4 lbs 10 oz.
Lauren’s positive attitude kept her going on long, hard days. Her advice to new NICU moms: “It’s okay to feel the feelings they are having- sadness, anger, hope, confusion.”
Read Lauren’s uplifting preemie mom story:
What were the circumstances surrounding the Ivy’s early birth?
I had severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. I was told my organs were failing which was causing the baby to go downhill fast. We would have died that day if she had not been delivered.
Do you remember what it was like to see Ivy for the first time?
I remember vaguely seeing Ivy for the first time. They wheeled me in my bed to her incubator right after the surgery (C-section) was done. So she was about 30 minutes or an hour old.
When Ivy was 11 days old I got to hold her for the first time. It was surreal. I couldn’t completely process the fact that I was holding such a tiny human. I was so excited, content, nervous, scared and sad all at the same time!
What got you through the tough times?
My husband and I were very fortunate to be able to be with Ivy every single day, all day. I feel like I always had him for comfort on hard days. We also had six amazing primary nurses who I always reached out to for support.
What kinds of things did you do to feel more like a “regular” mom to your preemie?
Once she was able to wear clothes I would always plan her outfits and I felt like that was some normalcy. I would always “decorate” her incubator or crib with fun colored or printed linens and then I would match her outfit to them.
Also, when it was safe to give her baths I would give them regularly. That’s still one of my favorite things to do with her.
How was it relating to friends and family during your NICU stay?
It was very difficult at first. They always meant well. I felt like I was always having to explain or teach them about all the things that were going on.
At times, they really didn’t understand why something was happening or why she couldn’t just drink my milk from the bottle. It definitely got a lot better as time went on.
Was there anything anyone did for you that helped make the NICU stay easier?
My husband and I stayed at the Ronald McDonald about five minutes away from the NICU. Family would bring us groceries which helped a ton. We both had a couple of friends that would be there for us by phone anytime we needed them.
Lastly, we picked six primary nurses– three daytime and three night time– and having those consistent nurses helped immensely. They really got to know Ivy which is everything in the NICU. We also trusted them the most, especially when we left to run errands, go to eat or get rest for the night.
How is Ivy today?
Ivy is doing so well! She just turned five months old (two months corrected) and she’s weighing 8 lbs and is 20 inches long.
She has no major issues besides her gut and reflux. As long as she’s on her hypoallergenic formula and reflux medicine she’s completely thriving!
We have lots of follow up appointments with the pediatrician, ophthalmologist, gastroenterologist, speech pathologist, and physical therapist. Those are just to make sure she is on the right path because of being a high-risk micro-preemie.
What would you tell a mom who has a preemie baby in NICU right now?
I would tell them it’s okay to feel the feelings they are having- sadness, anger, hope, confusion, etc.
I didn’t like it when people told me repeatedly to “take time for yourself” but it is true. Even if you just walk down to the cafeteria to get a coffee or something small as that.
No matter what, keep thinking of all the things you will do with your little one when they get discharged. You’re not alone. The preemie and NICU community is out there to support.
I always say preemie moms deserve a merit badge. What merit badges do you think you have earned?
I would probably earn a merit badge for always matching Ivy’s linens with her outfits and swaddle blankets! I had a lot of fun doing it.