November is recognized as Prematurity Awareness Month and in celebration, we are honored to share this guest blog post from an amazing family. We met Autumn and her baby, Grace, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital after the hospital had recently implemented our Pocket throughout their NICU. We had the opportunity to visit the hospital to see the Pocket in use and the impact it was having on families, and that’s when we met Autumn. Below is her story, and the story of Baby Grace. It is a story that inspires us, and we know will surely inspire you too.
“On the night of March 11, 2015, my husband and I welcomed our first child, Grace Madison Owdom. She was precious, new…and tiny. She weighed only 1lb. 6oz. and measured 12 inches long. I should’ve been terrified, even panic-stricken, instead I was overjoyed and hopeful.
Rewind three days: my feet were swollen and my blood pressure spiked at 184/118. My husband rushed me to the hospital. I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, a condition in pregnancy characterized by abrupt hypertension, large amounts of protein in the urine and edema of the hands, feet and face. The condition forced me to give birth early via C-section at 26 weeks, 1 day.
Because of Grace’s prematurity and critical condition, we celebrated many firsts in the NICU. I held Grace for the first time six days after she was born. On the seventh day, the wonderful staff at Nationwide Children’s Hospital encouraged me to consider kangaroo care. They explained the many benefits of skin to skin contact and gifted me with my first NüRoo Pocket. Little did I know when I was first given the shirt that I’d be wearing it every day thereafter.
I enjoyed an average of eight hours each day with Grace in the Pocket. I’m proud to report more than 620 hours during our 113 days in the NICU. I took breaks only to visit the restroom and grab something quick to eat and often felt guilty for not staying the night to log more time. Dad sat in from time to time, but I could never convince him to don the NüRoo shirt. Looking back on it now, I can’t imagine surviving the entire experience without this dedicated time with my baby girl, for whom I felt I could do so little to help. I can’t explain the importance of this time without also mentioning how much it helped me emotionally overcome some of the complicated feelings I was facing. Each transition from her isolette to my chest risked drops in her heart rate and oxygen levels, but once she was positioned safely against my body, she stabilized. And there we stayed, together, day after day.
I recall a sense of pride when wearing my NüRoo shirts. It signified my commitment to kangaroo care and awarded me the distinction of a mother who chose to dedicate time to her baby in the NICU. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Some families live too far away and some weren’t physically capable of holding their children due to their varying health conditions. As much as I am proud of our personal journey, I am extremely humbled by what we witnessed.
After surviving almost four months in the NICU, Grace came home on low-flow oxygen and an apnea monitor. While we weren’t exactly prepared for our “new normal” at home, her outcomes remain positive. We dodged several risky bullets and played the preemie game pretty well. She still suffers from some residual lung disease, but remains a healthy, happy baby. Despite not tolerating a lot of time in the Pocket these days, I confess I would kangaroo her forever if she’d allow it. Does NüRoo offer an extended range of sizes to fit toddlers…teenage babies?”
About: Autumn, her husband Matt, and Grace reside in Delaware, OH. Autumn and Matt met in high school before marrying ten years later. They look forward to celebrating the end of RSV season this coming Spring and introducing Grace to more friends and family!