At 3:25am we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world 2 months early. She arrived small enough to fit in both of our hands but came out kicking and screaming and I’m so blessed that we can continue to celebrate her strides and milestones every day.

I remember that Sunday morning. I woke up to her kicking my side and I told her that I’m up. I always talked to her. I went downstairs, grabbed a donut, a glass of milk and sat next to my husband while he played video games. After I finished eating, I laid my back against the back of the couch and I felt a gush trickle through my pants. I immediately knew something was wrong so I ran to the bathroom hoping it was just a new symptom the 3rd trimester had to offer. I went upstairs and looked up my symptoms in What to Expect When You’re Expecting and all signs pointed to Pprom aka preterm birth. Nervous and anxious, I drove myself to the hospital and they gave me the news that I feared, that my baby would be coming sooner than I thought.

It’s so weird because I remember the week before watching videos on YouTube about preemies and preterm birth unknowingly. I don’t think I would’ve been as prepared as I was if I didn’t educate myself.

I transferred to a hospital 45 mins away where I was put on bed rest to be monitored for any infections or signs that she was ready to come out. I then found out that I was diagnosed with PPROM. PPROM is a condition where the amniotic sac breaks and the amniotic fluid gushes out without signs of labor. The longer she stays the more she can grow, the doctors explained. 34 weeks was the goal and I was only 28 weeks when my water broke. I felt like I couldn’t breathe from that day forward as if not breathing would keep her in longer. I prayed desperately. Never have I been that terrified in my life. The guilt and the pain from the treatments made it really difficult but I knew I had to be strong because my lttle one was fighting too.

My mother was my only support system at that time. My personality got in the way when I told her that she didn’t have to come urgently because I was ok, even though I wasn’t and when I saw her walk through the door I broke down inside. Seeing her face gave me hope that everything was going to be ok. We prayed and spoke positivity, it helped me to believe that she can stay in for the long haul with no infections. MY mother took care of me; she brought me food, love and emotional support. I honestly don’t know what I’ve would’ve done without her.

I had some pretty bad contractions for a few days before my baby came which sent me through a whirlwind of constant pain. The nurses believed that it was time but I refused to believe it. While we waited for maybe, my husband and I had a debate about her name. He wanted Xara and I wanted Xiya. The day before she came, my mother in law suggested Xariya and there was a feeling of warmth and content that came over me. I smiled and told Trent it was meant to be, we were both happy with the name. I actually suggested that name to him before but he didn’t like it, so I’m glad her name worked in my favor where we can both be happy.

Riya’s lungs were nice and strong thanks to the steroids they gave her which sped up her maturity increasing chances of surviving outside the womb. Once she arrived the doctors took her straight to the NICU. They placed her in a warm humid container called an incubator to mimic the womb. At 3 lbs 2 ounces, she laid so uncomfortably in the bed from all the chords that consumed her tiny frame. Looking at her wasn’t like looking at a baby at all. I was so afraid that something could be wrong. The next day I got to visit her and it was the best feeling ever. Having to be separated after our time together was so hard, but touching her and bonding with her was a memory I’ll never forget. Everything was bittersweet as days continued to pass but the days felt like weeks as I grew more anxious and desperate. I hated that I couldn’t provide her with the warmth and care a baby should receive when they first arrive into the cold world. Although I was grateful for the care she was receiving, I was so angry that all these strangers had to handle her while I stood there hopeless. Every day I was hopeless, unsure of how to hold her because she looked so fragile and tired. It was so frustrating having to watch her get shots and IVs in multiple places but she was a trooper.

Time continued on and we got used to our new home at the hospital as she continued to grow and trail blaze through her time at the NICU. We were so thankful that she had no medical problems other than being small. I stayed at the Fisher House, a house that gives families a place to stay long term while a loved one is at the hospital. Every day I would walk down to change and feed her. Since she was too small to know how to suck, she was getting her milk through a feeding tube. Other than eating, her favorite was getting to do skin to skin. Kangaroo Care is vital for babies. She had a chance to hear my heartbeat and feel the warmth of my skin. We both loved it and it helped with my milk production. 

Once Riya was 35 weeks, she knew how to bottle feed, breast feed and was transferred to a bassinet. She was a solid 5 lbs and was almost ready to go home. I was so excited preparing for her arrival. My husband built her crib and sorted her room while I cleaned the house from top to bottom. We bought all of her necessities and her stroller and car seat, we literally didn’t have anything for her yet since we planned to start buying her things a week after my water broke. We did have a minor setback because the doctors found out she was allergic to milk protein. She couldn’t digest the milk and it left her stomach distended and painful for her. They also ruled out my milk because of my diet. In order to get discharged, she had to successfully feed and digest. So the doctors put her on a formula called EleCare where the proteins are broken down already so her body wouldn’t have to break them down. The struggle never stopped her appetite, she could still finish a 4 oz bottle under 10 mins. After 48 days we went home with our NICU graduate. She’s growing and eating and I cherish all the til I get to spend with her.

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