Hi, everyone! I’m Taryn, wife to Derek and mama to two babies born premature. Our journey in creating our family has been a roller coaster ride, but one I am incredibly grateful for!
When Derek and I started family planning, we had no idea what was in store for us. At our first ultrasound appointment we learned that there was a wall splitting my uterus in half. This was the beginning of a long road of specialist appointments, ultrasounds, close monitoring and check-ups. Preterm labour and delivery were never discussed, but in hindsight, we should have asked about the possibility of it happening.
During my pregnancy, we knew things weren’t going as well as they should be, but we were completely naïve about what a high risk pregnancy could lead to. It was a combination of us being true optimists and the excitement of our first baby. Our pregnancy ending “poorly” just never crossed our minds!
Our world was completely turned upside down (in the best way possible!) when our little boy arrived at exactly 30 weeks gestation, making him 10 weeks premature. I’ll never forget lying in the delivery room as my baby was swept away so the NICU team could evaluate him.
I was overwhelmed by the entire situation and felt guilty as we nervously waited to go for our first visit with Tate. It was many hours before we met and fell in love with all 3 lbs 9 oz of him. I’ll never ever forget seeing him laying there so peacefully with his tiny body covered with tubes and wires. There were beeping monitors and an overpowering stench of sterilization that flooded through the bay.
Derek quickly became my ‘calm and steady’ as I battled an emotional roller coaster. He managed to continue working in Biggar but was there for Tate and me almost every night. I stayed in Saskatoon at my brother’s home spending every minute I could at the NICU sitting next to Tate, waiting for the day he’d be discharged. I still remember fearing leaving the hospital but wanting to be at my own home so badly. We spent 7 weeks in the Saskatoon NICU before being discharged, which was one of the best days of my life.
The next two years were focused on ensuring we could safely have another baby. We underwent many tests and surgeries in hopes that our next baby would be full term. After several procedures and surgeries, we were finally given the go ahead to start trying again. Our specialists were optimistic that this time we would experience a normal, healthy pregnancy. We were still considered high-risk, but we were assured everything looked perfect. Finally, we started to relax and enjoy my pregnancy.
At a routine appointment at 28 weeks, my Doctor was doing an ultrasound to triple check that things were good. But her face changed immediately from cheerful to concerned. She told us that I was in beginning stages of preterm labour. Within minutes I went from feeling on top of the world, to being trapped again in a living nightmare. This time, I knew what could happen.
The panic set in as we scrambled to make arrangements for 3 year old Tate. Our families, once again, arranged our accommodations, stocked our fridge and made sure our focus was completely on keeping our baby healthy and on the inside of me.
After two weeks, preventing labour 3 times and having the baby flip to breach, our little girl Reese made her entrance into the world via emergency c-section. She was 4 lbs 2 oz, but 8 ounces was fluid build up from the rough delivery. So, there we were again. In the same NICU, facing the same fears, with the same Doctors and nurses that saved Tate’s life.
Family and friends had told us this time would be easier, since we knew what to expect. But that was the scariest part. We already knew what was going to happen and what Reese was going to face. Whether we were ready or not, our new journey navigating through the NICU began. It was hard to find a balance spending time with both of our kids. Derek spent most of his time with Tate, while I focused my energy on Reese. Over the next 6 weeks we watched our brave little girl overcome obstacle after obstacle. Finally, we were able to take her home to meet her big brother!
Our two preemies have shown amazing strength and Derek and I are stronger because of our journey. We love sending photos of Tate and Reese to be added to the “Graduate” wall at the NICU in Saskatoon. When our babies were in the NICU, the photos of other babies who went through similar journeys brought me so much hope and encouragement when I had bad days.
I believe that while we don’t always know the reason for things happening, there is always a beautiful purpose that can be found. That’s why Derek and I continue to share our stories. It’s also why we will be answering phones at the Sandra Schmirler Foundation Telethon.
We want to give other NICU families hope and encouragement. And, we want them to know that the most beautiful gifts can come from the hardest of times.
Babies’ lives are being saved every day in NICUs across Canada because of the generosity of donors like you.