Reflections on becoming a father to a premature baby – 6 month retrospective

Amina and me

Life completely changes when you become a parent, especially when you become a parent 6 ½ weeks earlier than expected.

My daughter, Amina will be 6 months old this week and it’s about time I wrote this blog post about our experience being the parents of a premature baby.  Amina  was born on August 1, 2011, 6 ½ weeks premature weighing just over 5 pounds.   My wife Farzana woke up one day crying that contractions have started, but it was too early – only 33 weeks.  Coincidentally, just before sleeping,  we had attended our pre-natal class and the instructor had taught us about “fake contractions” called Braxton-Hicks and stressed that they are common and that we  shouldn’t worry if we encounter them.  I thought that she was experiencing Braxton Hicks with the lessons of our class fresh in my mind. I tried to get her to relax and did not take them very seriously.  When the contractions kept getting closer and closer towards  the morning, she called her doctor and they told her to get assessed at the hospital.  We got to the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga and the contractions were not fake  …  they were the real ones.

Farzana was admitted in the hospital and closely monitored.  I slept on the bench/couch beside her bed for 4 days and took time off work.  She was given a drug, Indocin, to stop the contractions and was told it could suppress contractions for as little as a day or last until full term .  She was also given Celestone injections to develop the baby’s lungs because before 34 weeks of gestation, babies’ lungs aren’t fully matured.  On the fourth night the contractions had stopped so they discharged her the next morning. We felt pretty confident and were hoping the drug would continue to work but the contractions started again the next day and Baby Amina was ready to push her way out.

The labour ended up taking almost 12 hours in the hospital and I was pretty scared to see my wife looking like she was possessed and in extreme pain . I tried to convince her to get the epidural or try laughing gas but she refused due to what she had read about side effects and recovery times. All I could do was feed her cold water and encourage her throughout the process. It was scary, but at the same time exciting and I was really proud of my wife.

Farzana and I wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise but I was pretty sure we were having a boy from one of the ultrasound printout we got at the hospital months earlier.  When Amina came out, I was surprised when I saw it was a girl.  Amina is the cutest thing I ever saw.  Thankfully the drugs the hospital had injected had worked and she was able to breathe on her own but required a feeding tube through her nose.  My daughter was in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) for 11 days.  She was poked with several needles and had an IV drip feeding her for the first couple of days.  It was really hard to see her like that and not the way we would have pictured seeing our baby shortly after birth. As a first time father, I was clueless about how to take care of her.  Farzana and I visited her every day while rushing to get together all the baby stuff we hadn’t bought since we thought we had lots of time before the baby would come.   The Credit Valley Hospital nurses were generally nice and taught us how to change diapers, swaddle her, bathe her, and feed her.  While there, I was really grateful that we live in a country with free and equal access to healthcare for everyone.

Amina improved every day, became more reactive and started to regain the weight that she had lost over the first few days.  The final step was to pass a car seat test before being released.  She had to sit in her car seat for 1 ½ hours while being hooked up to the monitors to monitor her breathing.  She was able to breathe well so they discharged her.  My baby was finally coming home and I was so excited!

My life has completely changed.  I am a parent!  I feed Amina, change her diaper (only number 1 when possible because number 2 is just too gross), enjoy playing with her, and rock her to sleep.  She is doing really well and already reaching some milestones.  She started this weird back crawl at 4 months but according to her adjusted age (since she is premature), she really started crawling at 2 ½ months!  She started flipping over at 5 ½ months but according to her adjusted age, she really started flipping over at 4 months!  We started solids with her (rice cereal) and it’s going ok so far.  I fed her the first spoon.   The only downside of being a parent is the sleepless nights because of a crying baby who seems to wake up a million times in the night to feed or play.  She’s a handful even during the day now that she is developing a strong personality.  It’s okay though because I love her so much! My job keeps me really busy and doesn’t allow me as much baby time as I want so I’m going to take 2 months of paternity leave  this summer to help out more.  I eagerly look forward to spending time with my baby girl.

22 responses to “Reflections on becoming a father to a premature baby – 6 month retrospective

  1. Welcome to this new world. It will be the hardest job you ever had, but the most rewarding. Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. OH Ammar you’ve brought tears to my eyes! What a blessing little Amina is and how lucky she is to have such loving, wonderful parents.

  3. It seems like your beautiful girl has really captured your heart. Even though those diapers are yucky, the good times outweigh the gross times! I think it’s fabulous you’re taking a paternity leave. Please send pics of you and Amina singing at Gymboree

  4. “Only number 1 when possible because number 2 is just too gross” … uh huh. Wait until she starts on solids, then talk to me about gross.

    Congrats Ammar! And warmest wishes to Farzana as well. Fatherhood is a the best role you’ll ever take on – happy to hear that you’ll be taking some time off this summer to enjoy Amina.

  5. My sister recently gave birth to my niece. She had to be on a ventilator the first month of birth. Gladly everything worked out for the best. Thanks for sharing this story. Congratulations on your new addition too! :-)

  6. I love that in this post not only can you feel the love and concern for your baby, but for your wife. There is no way to ever explain to people how having a baby rocks your world, changes your perspective and robs you of your sleep! Looks like you are taking it all on in style:)
    Congrats to you on the growth of your family and thanks for sharing your experience with all of us!

  7. Haha Lena! Too true. Great post Ammar and happy 6 months to your wee one.

  8. Beautiful post my friend. You have me smiling, and you do get used to number 2, but trust me it takes years. So glad you are taking some paternity time.

  9. Ammar, thank you for sharing this post. I recently wrote a similar post. My little one was born at 28 weeks and was 980 g – just over 2 lbs. She is now 3 yrs old.

    Congrats! Your daughter is so precious. The months, days, and years go b too quickly. Happy 6 months :-)

    P.s. I wish I had the chance to talk to you at SCCTO! I grew up in Montreal and moved to Toronto. I have since left and am now living on an island in Ontario.

  10. What an awesome feeling it is to be a father Ammar. Many blessings to you, Farzana, and your precious daughter Amina.

  11. Great article, Ammar! Fantastic that Amina is doing so well. There is no experience as rewarding and amazing as being a parent and especially witnessing your child’s birth. Congratulations to you and Farzana, sounds like you have a little firecracker on your hands!

  12. Amina is all worth it, you and Farzana have created a miracle of lifetime and much more amazing experience to enjoy.

  13. Aw! This is lovely. I am very grateful for our glorious health care system too. We parents end up using it far too often

    Paula
    @inkscrblr

  14. Pingback: Reflections on becoming a father to a premature baby – 6 month retrospective | TDOT Roulette

  15. Great post. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is so hard to describe the feelings of being a parent. Such a joyous and rewarding journey

  16. Ammar this is a lovely story. Congrats on becoming a father. The day I was born my Dad got his very first grey hair and by the time I was 18 had completely WHITE hair. Daughters are lovely! Congrats to you & your family :)

  17. Thanks for all the kind words all!

  18. Congrats Ammar and I just loved reading this post. Daughters are truly a gift and you have been richly blessed I see.

  19. Very beautiful post. Love the photo. It is such a wonderful, scary and unknown world entering parenthood, welcome :) Thanks for sharing!

  20. Pingback: Reflections on becoming a father to a premature baby – 6 month retrospective | Ammar Khan’s Toronto Blog « FaithGivesMeHope

  21. This is really touching. Welcome Amina.

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