When nothing goes as planned

Many new parents feel unready to play their role when baby arrives at 40 weeks. So imagine a baby showing up at 30, 28 or 25 weeks! Every year in Quebec, 6,000 babies arrive earlier than expected, meaning that ready or not, 12,000 parents see their lives turned upside down by the ordeal of prematurity. Here is how some of them experienced it.

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When Victor was born at 29 weeks, I realized how fragile life is and how intense and immediate maternal love can be. I spent the 11 weeks while he was hospitalized in a daze. I was like a robot, driving between the hospital and Ronald McDonald House, running on adrenaline and newfound determination every day. I didn’t cry. I wanted to be strong for him. When I gave birth at term to my second son, Laurent, and he was placed on me and his mouth searched for my breast, I cried all the tears that I hadn’t shed for my handsome Victor. I never had the chance to enjoy that first precious contact with him, and it was only later that I realized what we both had missed out on.

- Catherine

Here is a story -- my own! I was born at the 25th week of pregnancy, in October, when I was due in January! I spent almost eight months at Sainte-Justine UHC. During my stay, I underwent surgery to close off my arterial canal, and I had slight intercranial bleeding. I summoned my courage and fought back. Now I’m a healthy adult and a student, and I have no lasting effects from my prematurity. Yes, I’m very happy to be alive and take advantage of every minute of life. Some time ago, I went to the neonatology unit to see the preemies in their incubators. I wanted to see what the reality was, my reality. Thank you, Préma-Québec, for having been there for my parents, but also for the children who need you so badly. 

- Michaël , born at 25 weeks

I’m the mother of Aymeric, born at 32 weeks of pregnancy. My son took on some major battles with every ounce of his three-pound body. During our hospital stay, my heart would break to think that he was probably crying at night and I wasn’t there for him. The hardest part was the incomprehension, the uncertainty, and having to juggle with life continuing outside the hospital walls. And knowing that the baby was no longer in my stomach but not in my arms, either. Having a preemie means jumping for joy when he’s gained a few grams overnight, and hoping for good news every morning. It means being afraid that the phone will ring and the hospital will be calling because of complications.

- Marysoleil

When Victor was born at 29 weeks, I realized how fragile life is and how intense and immediate maternal love can be. I spent the 11 weeks while he was hospitalized in a daze. I was like a robot, driving between the hospital and Ronald McDonald House, running on adrenaline and newfound determination every day. I didn’t cry. I wanted to be strong for him. When I gave birth at term to my second son, Laurent, and he was placed on me and his mouth searched for my breast, I cried all the tears that I hadn’t shed for my handsome Victor. I never had the chance to enjoy that first precious contact with him, and it was only later that I realized what we both had missed out on.

- Catherine

Here is a story -- my own! I was born at the 25th week of pregnancy, in October, when I was due in January! I spent almost eight months at Sainte-Justine UHC. During my stay, I underwent surgery to close off my arterial canal, and I had slight intercranial bleeding. I summoned my courage and fought back. Now I’m a healthy adult and a student, and I have no lasting effects from my prematurity. Yes, I’m very happy to be alive and take advantage of every minute of life. Some time ago, I went to the neonatology unit to see the preemies in their incubators. I wanted to see what the reality was, my reality. Thank you, Préma-Québec, for having been there for my parents, but also for the children who need you so badly. 

- Michaël , born at 25 weeks

I’m the mother of Mathieu and Émile, two miracle babies awaited for 10 years, who decided to show up after only 28 weeks of pregnancy. We went through a roller coaster of emotions, including panic and the fear of losing our precious babies. I told myself that I hadn’t managed to keep them in my belly long enough, and I wondered what I could or shouldn’t have done to make it happen. Our friends and relatives sent us congratulations, but I didn’t feel like celebrating. I found the words to talk about my experience when I attended a Préma-Québec coffee hour. We spent 101 days at the neonatology department, and I went to four of those meetups. Every time, I received comfort and encountered a sympathetic ear. My babies are now seven and a half months old (four and a half corrected age) and they’re doing well.

- Marie Claude

Everything was going without a hitch: my belly was starting to show, and the baby was growing well and had already won my heart. And then the inevitable happened, in the space of a few hours. Everything went wrong. The baby had to come out... The only words that came to my mind: “She’s too small.” I must have said them dozens of times. Machines, doctors, nurses, Ronald McDonald House... and above all, MY DAUGHTER. My daughter, who needed me to name her and who could be gone the next day. Because that’s how it was. She might be gone in the next instant. And the days went by; days of admiring her in the enormous incubator, barely touching her for fear of hurting her or giving her germs. Then one day, finally, she wrapped her tiny hand around my thumb and gazed at me. Today, I still can’t believe that she’s here, a part of my life and as healthy as can be. She’s two years old, and her name is Charlie.

- Claudia , Mom to Charlie, born at 25 weeks

At the neonatal unit, we would look at the baby photos on the wall in the hallway, trying to find a baby born as prematurely as ours, to reassure ourselves and say that they might make it. We’re parents to four preemies, so we’ve faced this situation more than once. Four pregnancies, four preemies. Three are alive today, because we lost a little girl who lived five hours. Every single time, we felt anxious and powerless. We were bombarded with information that it was our duty to understand, because we wanted to know everything! Today, after everything we’ve been through, we have three wonderful, energetic, charming boys that bring us great joy. Our eldest (born at 31 weeks) is finishing his second year of high school this year, and is one of the top students in his class. Our four-year-old (born at 28 weeks) is a bundle of energy with a heart of gold! And our youngest (born at 27 weeks) is still a baby and quite simply adorable.

- Caroline and Yannick , Parents of four premature children

Lambert was born on April 20, 2011, at 25 weeks and four days. He weighed only 820 grams and had an iron will. Three months and three weeks later, he went home with us. During those long months, we visited him every day to show him all the love we could give him. On August 11, 2011, he met his big sister, who for weeks had been patiently waiting for him. Today, she’s his second mom, his partner in crime and his buddy. Lambert is now two years old, and a ray of sunshine. He rarely complains and has incredible strength of character. His development is normal and he has no major health problems. This little man changed our own and our family’s lives. We’ll never view life in the same way again.

- Doriane
In December 2013, Thomas was born at 24.6 weeks. We spent many months in the Neonatal Unit and his evolution followed an extremely difficult path. Today he is almost 3 years old and we are so proud of him.

Dad and mom love you Thomas xxx
- Isabelle and Simon