Kit Miller on Premie Motherhood
In recognition of World Premature Day, we reached out to Brooklyn-based single mom Kit Miller. This #wondermama is a federal government lawyer based in Manhattan who knows a thing or two about premies; her son Ren was born at 28 weeks. Here, she shares her journey.
Ren was born through emergency C-Section at Columbia Hospital at 28 weeks, weighing just 2.5 pounds. Immediately, he was placed in an isolet (heated incubator to maintain body temperature), on CPAP (apparatus for breathing), and fed breastmilk through a tube.
The Power of Breastmilk
I pumped 8-10 times a day while he was in the NICU. During the day, I pumped while working from home and then delivered the breastmilk every evening to the hospital. During the night, I stayed by his isolet and pumped while watching him sleep. With the amazing care of the NICU doctors and nurses, Baby Ren was released and came home from the NICU a couple weeks before his due date. Ren still gets breastmilk, only now I go to his daycare throughout the day to breastfeed him. Breastfeeding has not been easy, but it has been worth it. Ren is now 6 months old, 19 pounds and 29 inches long, and he is a very happy baby- all thanks to my supermilk!
The most surprising thing about giving birth to a preemie is realizing how every single second in utero counts, and we as pregnant women need to take good care of ourselves for our growing babies. Had he stayed in utero even one more week, his lungs would have been exponentially stronger. As it is, he has had bronchiolitis, croup, and a double ear infection. It has been a challenge to not blame myself for his prematurity. I had placenta abruption which likely caused his early birth, but there is no known cause for placenta abruption. While modern medicine is amazing in many ways, there are still many mysteries around pregnancy and child birth.
The Hardest Part
I remember, when he was born, thinking "Would he survive?" I was even afraid to love him because I thought I might lose him during that first month. I also remember feeling like I was robbed of the joy that comes along with a baby's birth. Instead of joy, I felt fear, worry and guilt.
The Most Tender Moments
The most precious thing I remember is from his first month in the NICU doing kangaroo care (skin on skin care, where the nurse took him out of the incubator and laid him on my chest) for an hour per day, if his little body could tolerate it. He was fed through a tube and I could not nurse him so this was the first mother-baby bond that I experienced. I also felt immense pride every evening when I delivered enough breastmilk that I had pumped for his daily feedings. Besides kangaroo care, it was the only thing that I felt that I could do for him and his survival.
Advice for Others
You are not alone. I know that being a NICU parent is an extremely isolating experience--you feel like you live in a bubble. And you do. But you are not alone in that bubble. One in ten babies worldwide is born premature. You are not alone.