On World Prematurity Day (17th November), we want to raise awareness of premature birth and its impact on families.
Premature birth is not an easy journey to talk about, especially for 1st-time mummies, but we are glad to have Yovanne share her journey with us to help empower other mummies who have similar experiences.
Yovanne and her little warrior, Thiago, are remarkable for going through so much together!
Let's all spend some time reading about her inspirational journey.
Our pregnancy journey wasn't smooth at all after having two miscarriages in 2019. But, since then, we never gave up and decided to seek professional help - as we wanted to have a baby.
Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with Antithrombin III Deficiency, which was why I kept having miscarriages. With the help of my fertility specialist and my hematologist, I managed to keep my pregnancy for a longer period.
Every visit to the hospital is another challenge to me, as there are really so many unknowns that I couldn't prepare for. Thankfully, I had an emphatic gynecologist - who always reminded me to take things one step at a time.
Things were not easy because of my Antithrombin III Deficiency. I had to inject Heparin every day, and it's painful at times to see clots on my belly and my thighs, but I pressed on for our baby growing inside me.
Days went by, and we didn't lose hope, soon my second trimester was ending, and that was when I started to feel unwell. On a Sunday evening, while I was busy working, I felt a sudden pain in my lower abdomen. I remembered vividly - the pain worsens every time I get up to walk.
As I was home alone, I decided to rest while waiting for my husband to return home. Once he got home, I immediately told him that I wasn't feeling well and in pain. Little did I know that I was in preterm labor already. We called our gynecologist and explained everything that was happening, and he then told us to go to the hospital immediately as he needed to see me. I kept calm while bearing the immense pain, and I didn't know that our baby was coming out soon.
When we reached the hospital, the nurse came to help me settle down while my doctor checked on me. At that point, I was dilated. They tried to stop my contractions, but it didn't work. Next, we did a quick ultrasound to see what was going on, and the baby had turned already. He is coming out soon.
The doctor told me, "Yovanee, you will need to deliver soon, and your baby will be premature." I couldn't think clearly at that point in time, as many things were happening at once, and I told the doctor to do what he thought was best for my baby and me.
I spent approximately 18 hours in labor, but I could sense that our baby was calm. So I kept calm to reduce the pain he was going through by not getting stressed out or worried.
I have always planned a caesarian because of my back condition (from a spine surgery in 2020). Still, my doctor told me that I had to give birth vaginally, and he couldn't administer an epidural due to my medical condition.
I took laughing gas instead, and I don't know where I got the energy to push this little one out of me. I saw a small hairy head accompanying a faint cry from our little fighter, Thiago, who was 28 weeks. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see him and hold him in my arms as he was immediately transferred to his NICU doctors and nurses. Ward 24 NUH is where Thiago spends most of his time, and it's the ward that we will never forget.
01/03/21 is the beginning of our little fighter Thiago whose birth weight was 1 KG. He was so small that he could fit inside my maternity bra, bonding with me during Kangaroo Care (a skin-to-skin contact method typically used for premature babies).
This incredible roller coaster journey of 75 days in NICU stay will always be an experience that my husband and I will cherish.
Our little bud went through surgery when he was so small. He has been through the impossible now. From now on, I believe that everything will be possible for him.
1. How did you pull through during your whole pregnancy journey? How did you cope?
Trust my gynecologist and keep a positive mindset. Go with the flow as I don't know what will happen.
Connect with my baby and keep reminding myself that I am doing this for him as there's no other joy than being able to care for him and carry him for as long as I can.
2. Any advice you want to share with other mummies that gone through similar experiences as you?
You have to be calm. Your baby will be calm and try not to get stressed out when you are in a dilemma,
Remember, when it comes to medical complications, you aren't the one to blame, so don't beat yourself over it as there are things that you can't control, you have to trust your doctor, and you are in the safe hands of your doctor.
I have learned to be patient, appreciate all the little milestones, take some setbacks as lessons, and always be hopeful for something. We had always wished to see our little man back home in our arms, and when we looked back, it has been such an emotional rollercoaster journey.
One thing I will always tell my son - your first hero in your life is the whole NICU team.
"You can do the impossible because you have been through the unimaginable."