this is motherhood {too}: a journey with a 25 week old micro preemie

May 23, 2014, Michaela Evanow, 4 Comments

this is motherhood {too}By Aubrie McShane.

On March 25, 2012, at 3:54am – I witnessed a miracle. And for the next 90 days I kept witnessing that same, beautiful miracle. You see, deep in the middle of the night and early hours of a chilly, spring Sunday morning, when I should have been fast asleep, tucked in at home in my own bed snuggling my growing belly, I was in our local hospital giving birth to my sweet, precious baby girl – 3.5 months too soon.

Ava Grace made her entrance after 24 weeks and 6 days in my womb. Those last 6 days were spent in the best hospital in Illinois, while the specialists and nurses tried all their tricks to keep Ava safe inside my womb. I remember during my 6 days of hospital bed rest hearing the “what ifs” and all the statistics: cerebral palsy, brain defects, developmental delays, chronic complications, vegetable state, death. 

Do you want us to try to fight for her?

this is motherhood {too} baby born 25 weeks, micro preemie.jpg

When Ava was born, she weighed a little more than a pound of meat (1lb 6oz) and was the length of a ruler (12 inches). Her skin was red and translucent, her eyes were still fused shut, and she looked like a baby bird that had fallen out of her nest way before her time. The medical team whisked her away while I lay in shock in my hospital bed after pushing for just 10 minutes. I remember feeling so out of it and almost disconnected from the experience—a protective mechanism in case we lost her. I honestly did not expect her to live, and I was mentally and emotionally “checked out”. 

The doctors struggled to intubate her because her airways were so thin and narrow, but praise God, they were able to get her breathing. My mom was so worried but she told me the doctors were so calm, they had done this before. Ava was baptized immediately because we were not sure if she would live through those first few hours. Then she was whisked away to the NICU, the place where the real magic happens.

Ava was in the NICU for 90 days. It is an unreal feeling to leave the hospital empty-handed after giving birth. She was alive and I could visit her anytime I wanted, but it was not the same. I didn’t have a husband or partner to walk through this journey with. Ava’s father and I were dear friends throughout college and have known each other for 7 years. We were never a couple, but we were close friends who happened to make a baby together. My pregnancy was unexpected and Ava’s father was not willing to stay the course through this part of our “friendship.” 

My primary partners throughout this journey included my mom, my younger sister, and my maternal grandma. It would be just us girls and we would make it through this unplanned, miracle-in-the-making.

I didn’t get to share 9 months as one-entity with my precious daughter. I never got to feel her kick or swim about in my womb. I didn’t get the big baby bump and didn’t get to wear the cute maternity clothes I had bought. I didn’t get to breastfeed her. I didn’t get to give her her first bottle. I didn’t get to give her first bath. I didn’t get to bring her home with me. 

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There are many things I didn’t get to experience with Ava, but there were a lot fascinating things I was able to participate in.

I was able to watch my baby girl develop outside of my womb. I watched her skin form a thick, protective layer around her to keep her warm. I watched her eyes open for the first time, one at a time, 7 days after she was born. I watched her spunky personality develop as she would kick her teeny tiny bird legs and throw her arms around in defiance every time she was covered. I watched her lungs grow as she moved from the ventilator, to the CPAP, to the nasal cannula in only 3 days! I watched her hairs grow on her eye lashes, on her eyebrows, on her head. I watched her nails grow and her ears develop fully. I sang to her and knew she heard me. I held her developing body, skin against my skin. I bathed her with a cloth and read to her over the buzzing and beeping machines.

After 90 days of “mothering” in the NICU, I was able to bring my precious baby home. But it wasn’t a normal home-coming. Yes, it was triumphant and joyous, but this little fighter came with a lot of baggage .Oodles of prescriptions, oxygen tanks, heart monitors, medical supplies, wires and tubing, and more doctors’ appointments than I’ve had in my entire 27 years! But she was home. And she was mine. 

My pregnancy and Ava’s birth and NICU stay were not part of my plan, not how I envisioned motherhood. However, everything was immaculately orchestrated by the Lord.

Two years later, my little spit fire has golden brown curls, beautiful brown eyes, and sass for days! Her father is now in the picture, and they spend time together twice a month. She is walking and running and talking and yelling and imagining and living. She has no developmental or cognitive delays or any lasting effects from her premature birth. You would never know by looking at her that she came into this world weighing a little over a pound. However, I know her story. And someday she will know her story. She has come so far and I am blessed to have been chosen to experience this alongside her.

micro preemie, 2 years old.jpg

Aubrie McShane is a single, working mom to precious miracle baby, Ava. The two live in Central Illinois.

This is from the collective writing project: this is motherhood {too}. Do you have a story you’d like to submit?

4 Comments

  • Reply Kelsey March 2, 2016 at 12:32 PM

    I am sitting in my hospital bed reading this less than 48 hours after giving birth to my 1 lb, 11 inch, 26.6 week daughter. Your words touch and comfort in a way I cannot express. Thank you for so beautifully articulating the hardships & the missed moments, as well as the powerful & unique experiences so far & yet to come! You have filled me with hope, & I imagine I will read Ava’s beautiful story many, many times!
    Thank you!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply Bev. Nash June 7, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    What a beautiful story! Miraculous! Thanks for the encouragement and hope in a very trying situation! She is so beautiful!

  • Reply Amy Hunt June 5, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    But oh the grace of God! How He cares for the little ones . . . the sparrows . . . and all of us who get to experience your story from a distance. Such a gift, indeed.

    • Reply Aubrie June 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Thank you!!! She is truly something special (as are all babies). I now know the true value of life and how truly fragile it is.!

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