Bekah Phelps was nearing the end of her second trimester with her son, Judah, when her water broke at 24 weeks. Through medical intervention she was able to delay delivery to 31 weeks. He weighed just 2 pounds, 15 ounces.
Bekah went through a difficult pregnancy with Judah, worrying for her son’s weight early on. Judah’s weight began to decline from the 24th to the 11th percentile. She begged her doctors to do an ultrasound, and it paid off.
“Shortly one of the doctors came into my room and sheepishly said, ‘we think you must be psychic, because you were right. Judah is better off out than in at this point and we are delivering him in the morning.’”
Judah wasn’t receiving adequate blood supply when he came out, and had both absent-end and reverse diastolic flow. But he’s a fighter, and today is a happy, healthy, and intelligent 20 -month-old.
To other moms of preemie babies, Bekah says that “You won’t be in the NICU forever, so hang tough, sweet mama. Be strong, your little one needs you, and one day this will all be a distant memory.”
Read Bekah’s inspiring preemie mom story:
What were the circumstances surrounding Judah’s early birth?
I had a subchorionic hematoma and bled from 12-18 weeks. This prolonged bleeding weakened my gestational sac, which caused my water to break at 24 weeks. I was put on modified bedrest at OU Children’s Hospital with the goal of staying pregnant until 34 weeks.
What was it like to see Judah for the first time?
They held him up in the air over the surgery sheet for us to see him. I was afraid going into the surgery, but when I saw him, I was overcome with amazement! Even though I was so worried about him, I saw a sweet and perfect baby, and a much bigger baby than I had imagined!
When did you get to hold Judah for the first time?
Several hours after the delivery, I was able to go up to the NICU and see him. Nathan wheeled me up next to his bed in my wheelchair and there he was: tiny, blonde, perfect, and covered in wires.
I was truly overcome with emotion, crying over and over again, “My baby! My baby!!” and I reached up to his bed to touch him. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
When his nurse came in the room, the first thing I did was ask her if I could hold him. It was incredible meeting him for the first time and holding his tiny body on my chest, right where he belonged!
What got you through the tough times?
We had an AMAZING support system. I don’t mean to brag by any means, but I just want to vocalize how blessed we were by so many people who loved and supported us during that season – people we knew and people we didn’t! My sister went way above and beyond supporting us through the entire process.
And when everything else seemed to fade away, my faith in God was pivotal for my emotional well-being. I clung tightly to His promises and to the things He had directly spoken to me. I could not have made it through without Him or the support we received.
What kinds of things did you do to feel more like a “regular” mom to your preemie?
We read him books and held him and sang to him. It was fun giving him baths and changing his tiny diapers!
How was it relating to friends and family during your NICU stay?
Basically, 90 percent of the time my mind was fixated on Judah. It was really hard relating to friends and family, but they did a great job supporting us and coming to visit him.
Was there anything anyone did for you that helped make the NICU stay easier?
My sister raised money for a grocery fund for us and so we had tons of great food at home and didn’t have to stress about cooking meals. She also helped us unpack into our apartment by the hospital, so when I came home from the hospital into a new place, it felt homey, sweet, and welcoming to our new family!
Did you go on to have any additional children? Preemies? Full-term births?
I have a 4 week old daughter, Evelyn! She came 2 days before her due date – I felt like I was pregnant forever, haha! I was hoping for a VBAC, but ended up with another c-section because the cord was around her neck.
How is little Judah today?
Judah is a healthy, happy, intelligent 20-month-old little boy. He is so compassionate, loving, and has a strong will (which is no surprise – he is a fighter!!). We absolutely love him more than life and are grateful beyond words can say for him.
What would you tell a mom who has a preemie baby in NICU right now?
God is ALWAYS with you, and angels are watching over your baby while you sleep away from them. He will give you peace that surpasses all understanding. Listen to positive music at night time if you have a hard time sleeping. I personally loved Scripture Lullabies – it gave me a lot of peace.
I always say preemie moms deserve a merit badge. What merit badges do you think you have earned?
A merit badge for sitting countless hours in the pleather hospital rocking chair, and for breast pumping every 2-3 hours in said chair while staring at my baby in an isolette while monitors go off every 5 minutes! Being able to make any milk at all is such an accomplishment while being a NICU mom!