Hello Miss Norah Jean!
This sweet babe was born 11 weeks early and weighed only 1lb. 15oz. For almost three months she fought hard in the NICU. You may remember her big brother, Lathaniel. He’s a fighter too! I photographed his newborn session about two years ago. (You can view it here.)
I follow Norah’s momma, Dallas, on social media and I remember seeing her birth announcement. I instantly started praying that God would wrap his arms around Norah Jean and allow her little body to stay strong and grow, grow, grow!
I know there are so many woman suffering from being trapped in the NICU with their precious babes. That’s why I asked Dallas if she wouldn’t mind sharing her story. It’s hard to understand the struggles and maybe we don’t really need to. I hope that her story reaches someone that is going through this. I pray that it brings you hope, encouragement and that you feel less alone!
“I'm not sure where to start, both pregnancies coincide one another. A lot of things I've never said, just because everyone always wants you to be positive and, they mean well but don't understand. My son was born early and after many tests they found I had antiphospholipid syndrome. Basically at some point in pregnancy my body sees the baby as an illness so it tries to attack it and cut off the blood supply. The only treatment and plan was to do daily lovenox (blood thinner) injections and low dose aspirin to prevent my blood from clotting and cutting off supply to the baby. There is only a 70% success rate. Even with the injections at 27 weeks my body was starting to reject the pregnancy.”
“I was put on hospital bed rest until she was born at 29 weeks and 4 days. The pregnancy itself was hard, not because things were going wrong. Up until 27 weeks everything was perfect. The fear and anxiety I had, knowing what the problem was and knowing there was a high risk of it happening again made it stressful. I drove myself crazy listening to her heart rate constantly and counting kicks every day. The constant worry was so hard to deal with and I didn't talk to anyone about it, because I didn't know how. With my son it was a normal pregnancy until it wasn't. From the time we found out the problem with him, to his birth, it was only three days. I didn't have time to think and fear about any of it. However, with Norah, from the moment I found out I was pregnant fear set in. My doctors did everything they could and I was going to regular OB's and high risk doctors, to constantly monitor how she was.”
“Sitting in a hospital bed for three weeks is enough to drive anyone crazy but when you're alone most of the time and missing your child, family, and friends. Then the day came that she was born. I was woken up by nurses running in at 5am prepping me for surgery. I was quickly calling David and my mom to let them know and at 7:39am she was here. I was fine, everything went smoothly and I thought I was okay. Up until the moment they wheeled me into the NICU. From that point on I felt completely alone. Hearing the constant beeps of the monitors and having the nurses and doctors tell me all the same things they had with my son hit me hard. PTSD set in and all the things I never realized I hadn't dealt with, with my son, came back. Walking in and out of the hospital everyday without a baby again was the most crushing thing. Still trying to be excited and happy for my friends who were taking their babies home, and saying congratulations to all the families I saw leaving felt so insincere, because the truth is I was jealous. I didn't understand why I couldn't have that. Why I couldn't have maternity photos, and newborn pictures, why I had to relive the most painful part of my life all over again. Naturally, like any mother would, I blamed myself. I wondered what I did to deserve this. I thought if I had done something different, my children wouldn't have to fight so hard to be alive.”
“The next 73 days were filled with tears, heartache and pain, but there was still so much love, joy, and excitement for every milestone and hope of her coming home. Then on day two of being home, she turned blue and I loaded up my two babies and rushed to CHOA. For the next week she went through more tests and they found out she was aspirating while eating and taking formula into her lungs. The next step was to put in a feeding tube and work closely with therapy until she develops her suck, swallow, and breath reflexes. Now, thankfully, we're all home together! She's working with therapy and doing her best to no longer need the tube.”
“It's hard to talk about the daily struggles of NICU life and having premature babies with people who can't relate. On one side you have people who look at a one pound baby and don't see how they can survive, on the other you have the people praying and trying to remain so positive for you. I understand and appreciate both. The love and prayers help in so many ways. You try to be okay, smile, and tell everyone you're fine, until you're alone and looking at an empty nursery and think about the time you spent away from your toddler and all the things you missed. You try to tell people you aren't okay and try to open up and they say "it'll be okay, she's where she needs to be, you did what you had to" but it doesn't take away the pain.”
“You have to learn to live with not being okay and understand that it is okay to not be okay. Because yes, the situation could be much worse, but that doesn't mean you don't have every right to feel the hurt and be sad your dreams of a perfect pregnancy and birth didn't happen. With my two kids I wasn't able to have a big beautiful belly, hold them when they were born, breastfeed, or do all of the things I thought I'd get to.”
“But I got so much more in return, I got miracles, who beat every odd put in front of them. I got to have a tiny baby for a little bit longer than everyone else, I get to snuggle them longer.”
Please continue to pray for sweet Norah, Dallas and Lathaniel. Norah still has her feeding tube and likes to pull it out. This means, a trip to the hospital to have the tube replaced. Can you imagine having a hungry baby and not being able to feed them because you don’t have a bottle?!?!? When that tube comes out, she has no way of eating.
Dallas, thank you so much for being brave and sharing your beautiful story. I know that you have suffered so much pain and anguish over the past year. To me and so many other woman, you are a total rockstar! Your story is going to touch the lives of woman and give them hope and a sense of peace in knowing they are not alone.