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What I Wished I Knew Before Having A Premature Baby: Through The Lens Of A Mother's Fight For Life

mom holding baby's hand on white sheet

I unexpectedly delivered my son Kareem at home alone just 22 weeks and 6 days pregnant. He weighed 1lb and 6oz. He spent 180 days in the NICU where he received an extensive amount of care. He was intubated for more than 3 months and developed chronic lung disease. He had a PDA ligation, received countless blood/platelet transfusions, had a grade 4 bilateral brain bleed and so much more.

For months we did not know if Kareem would survive. Every day was different and mostly painful. It took us weeks for us to see him open his eyes, months before we heard his first cries and the first time I got the opportunity to hold my son was when he was being transported to Mount Sinai hospital for heart surgery.My eyes saw things I should have never seen, and my ears captured the sounds of things I should have never heard. But we watched as our tiny baby developed into a healthy baby boy.

Our NICU journey was a true roller coaster ride. There were so many highs and lows but with our faith in God, the support of family, and friends we were able to persevere. Today, we are blessed to have a healthy, beautiful, resilient 5 year old little boy. He brings my family and I so much joy.

quote on a white background with black and purple border

Delivering my son at home alone at 22 weeks and six days pregnant has made me realize that society tends to only display the beauty of childbirth. Somehow society has forgotten the importance of displaying what could go wrong. They forget about the fight for life that many of these mothers, and their children will endure. It’s imperative to speak out about the challenges we face during and after childbirth to help the next family. There are numerous things I wish I had known about premature birth and the challenges that could arise from it.

Just to name a few, here are some things I wish I had known about prior to to having Premature Baby:

  • The importance of self care. Having a baby unexpectedly puts you in survival mode. Your mind is always consumed with the care of your baby. Take time for yourself. Once in a while, do something that makes you happy and/or feel good. You need it and deserve it.

  • How much you would have to advocate for your baby. Advocating for my son is what I realized made me feel like a mom during our NICU journey. There were times I spoke up when I noticed my son didn't seem comfortable or when my gut told me something was not right. When you see something, say something.

  • Journaling. write down information being communicated to you and questions you may have when your child is in the NCU. It will help you be able to remember and better understand the current health conditions of your baby. No question is a dumb question. Write down how things make you feel throughout your journey. Journaling helps release stress.

  • Learning about medical equipment that is needed for your baby to survive and be cared for at home. My son was on multiple medical equipment during and after he was discharged from the NICU. We had to learn how to use the traveling oxygen equipment, how to operate his feeding tube machine and how to read the pulse ox meter.

women embracing while seated in a group
  • Seeing a Therapist or going to counseling. After having a traumatic birth experience, it’s important to seek professional counseling. There is so much you will need to unpack; physically and emotionally.

  • Connecting with families who have had a premature baby. Connecting with a community of people who have endured a similar experience helps you feel less alone.

  • How I initially felt a sense of embarrassment, shame and guilt. There is a lot of loss you experience from having a baby early. You feel like your body has failed you. Society tends to display the beauty of childbirth and hide what could go wrong. As a result of that, some women don’t want to engage in being being celebrated. They may opt out of having a baby shower.

  • My life would change forever. I felt like I was a part of a secret society that no one ever wanted to talk about.

As a result of having a premature baby I have become an author, social impact speaker and a premature birth advocate. I have created an organization called Konnected Thru 22, which aims to provide a safe space for families with premature babies to connect through stories and resources while uplifting one another. Through KT22, I host monthly Instagram lives to help raise premature birth awareness and donate essential baby items to families that are currently experiencing the NICU journey.

memoir 22 & 6 Born on 11/26. leaning against a vase full of marbles and sunflowers

To help support the fundraising efforts you may send monetary donations via Zelle and PayPal to You may also make a purchase off of the Konnected Thru 22's Amazon Wish List, to help support NICU families who are currently on their journey. To get your copy of 22 And 6: Born on 11/26, please "konnect" here.



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