“I was pregnant and working a shift at the hospital when I felt sick, so I called my obstetrician (OB), who advised me to check my blood pressure (BP). It was high—in the 150s. I took medication, but it kept rising. A few days later during a doctor’s visit, my BP was 178/110. I was immediately admitted to the hospital and stayed there for eight days before being diagnosed with preeclampsia. During an ultrasound, they noticed that the umbilical cord had absent flow, so my baby wasn’t getting good circulation. They figured that the flow was not giving her what she needed because of the preeclampsia. As a result, Aria was born by emergency cesarean delivery, at 27 weeks and 1 day weighing 1 lb 6 oz (630 g) at 16 inches long.
I found the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) experience difficult and I’m processing it in therapy. The hardest thing was not being able to go home with my baby. I chose an OB at a hospital where all the doctors are Black women so I would get the best care. I’m a first-time mom. Aria is my first child. I was on top of it—I had a doula; I wanted all these options and I wanted to feel empowered—and then everything that I planned went out the window. You just want them to be healthy and continue to grow.”
“Aria had complications such as mild bronchopulmonary dysplasia, stage-one retinopathy of prematurity, and some cardiac scares that are still being monitored. In the NICU, I was encouraged to stay on a pumping schedule, so I pumped around the clock. I wanted to avoid formula, so I was determined to pump.”
Prolacta products in the NICU
“My healthcare providers told me that they would be adding Prolacta fortifiers to my milk to help Aria continue to gain weight. I’m thankful that I had Prolacta as a partner to my breast milk. Aria was getting everything she needed as far as antibodies from me and the extra calories from the Prolacta.”
“Aria graduated from the NICU after 110 days at 6 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches long, and she’s still breastfeeding at home. She came home with no tubes—no oxygen, no feeding tubes, nothing. Now I let her eat on demand. We tried formula, but Aria did better with just breast milk. Now Aria weighs 8 lbs 2 oz at 5 months, 2 months adjusted, and we are doing physical therapy to make sure she is doing everything correctly. Aria likes the ABCs (including the Jackson 5 version). She moves and tries to sing—well, I don’t know if she’s singing—but she really likes it. She is good at tummy time. She does it on her own, and they say she’s developmentally right on the mark.”
Advice for NICU parents
“Ask for help. Support each other. Breastfeed if you can. I know the struggle of trying to pump and work and be a functioning working mom, but that milk was literally nourishing and bringing my baby back to life.”