Early bird: The highs and lows of parenting a premature baby

It is every mother’s prayer and dream to give birth to a fully baked baby- at least 37 weeks because, generally, the earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of complications. Although the miracle of birth might be overshadowed by concern about your preemie’s health, the ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks are always present.


Pretty Azalea

Christine Wachira gave birth to her daughter Azalea at 34 weeks. I still remember her message popping up on the chat ‘believe it or not, I gave birth to baby Azalea Grace Njeri last night’ Wahala!! I checked my calendar to ensure it was not April fools day. And since by then I lived a stone throw away from the hospital where she was admitted, I dragged my 70 something kg pregnant self to Uhai Neema and behold the preemie princess was indeed born. Christine Wachira has shared her experience parenting her preemie princess…please enjoy the read.



Christine and AZ
Christine and her daughter Azalea


When I first found out I was pregnant I didn’t know what to feel!

I was both elated and out of mind excited! But was also a little nervous.
I mean yes getting pregnant was something I’d always dreamt about and the thought of a little girl that was a mini me was just a dream! I didn’t waste a minute informing my mother and siblings and they were all excited too.

I broke the news to her father who also joined us in celebrating.
After 4 months as we headed for our routine prenatal clinics a nurse advised me to get a scan because I’d shown interest in knowing the baby’s gender. Excited, we went to the radiologist’s office and lying there happy and waiting for the news he had a concerned look on his face.

“Uum everything is fine with the baby, healthy weight…viable heartbeat…as far as I can tell SHE is a healthy baby!” OMG I was going to have a daughter, a true little version of her Mama. Amidst all the excitement couldn’t help but notice there was more to it. He went ahead to tell me, that he could clearly see that my cervix was dilating quite early. My cervix dilating 5months early couldn’t be good.

I was sent back to my gynaecologist to further explain this to me. Due to the cervix dilation, it meant that I couldn’t exert more pressure on myself as it would make the baby move further down and this would mean a premature birth. I was given total bed rest for the remaining months, no leaving the house or doing house chores. No physical exertion of any kind. This was the hardest part or so I thought at that moment. All that time on my own meant more time for worrying about everything that could go wrong with my baby, what if I did something wrong and I lost her?
Dr Ouko at Uhai Neema Hospital was one of my biggest supports during the remaining months.

During those months in between cramps and leaking amniotic fluid it became an even more challenging pregnancy as taking stairs was banned at all costs. The more recent scan showed that the fluid had reduced immensely because every time I went for a short call I would feel lots of it leak afterwards.
I would speak to my little girl and ask her to hang on, at 32 weeks were almost there.

At 34weeks on a Thursday morning, I went for my routine scan and was told so far so good. Lots of rest was doing us good. I left for home and decided to nap on the couch, but little nagging cramps that were so distant kept me awake. By evening they were more intense, and as I was home at Mums’ she quickly advised a hospital check up at 11pm. The drive there seemed really long and at the hospital reception I couldn’t wait any longer and walked myself to the maternity wards to find my gynaecologist as that was his night shift.

It was clear for everyone except me that I was going into labour. As I was getting a V.E done I was informed to my shock and horror that I was 8cm dilated and my water had broke. In half an hour I was in serious labour and before I could blink thrice my baby Azalea Grace Njeri was born at 2am 11th April, at 34weeks weighing 2kgs.


AZ same outfit months apart
Azalea: Same outfit, months apart

Usually, Mums spend on average 2nights maximum in the hospital and leave with their babies.With a premature baby, breathing difficulties are common in the beginning even though I had prior received 2 steroid injections to boost the maturity of her lungs as a premature birth was expected 


Nights in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) proved the most difficult week of my life as it was characterised byswollen feet, sleepless nights as the baby would wake up randomly and want a feed, unable to breastfeed we had to express and cup feed. I remember several of us mothers in the nursery at 2am, our babies chest to chest in kangaroo therapy, praying for our extremely delicate angels, praying to get out of there healthy and alive.

You would change and feed your baby and slowly creep back to bed to catch even 10minutes of sleep and just when you shut your eyes, someone’s baby crying would wake you up or someone would wake you up to tell you yours was awake. It would be accurate to say we slept and lived up and down the corridors with huge feet that didn’t fit in slippers any more Lol sounds funny now.

On the fourth night, I was given my baby for the first time to sleep with in the ward ready to be discharged the next day. I remember not sleeping and just sitting up staring at her afraid to squash her in my sleep!

In preparation to leave, after I’d packed ready to leave for home, the paediatrician realised Azalea was jaundiced and she had to be admitted back for photo therapy for 2days! I was crushed, crying and refusing to let go because it felt like they were stealing her AGAIN. A certain Lady who was being discharged stood with me at the glass window, where I was weeping, watching my child in just a diaper and blindfold alone under the blue photo therapy light, she hugged me as I cried and spoke encouraging words to me. “The God that gave you this baby, will hold your hand through it all. You and your baby will leave here victorious”
True to that after 2 days we were discharged.

The stay at home was easier because I had people around me who were always there to help me. Today my princess is a happy healthy baby and I’m forever grateful to God for this blessing.

Has your baby arrived earlier than expected? Hang in there he or she will make it out of hospital healthy and stronger.

Thanks very much Christine Wachira for sharing. May Azalea grow heathier and continue being a source of joy to you and all the people around her.


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