When I first really saw Isabella, I cried. A wave of guilt rushed over me cutting my visit with her short. After 10 minutes with the baby I gave birth to just 24 hours before, I asked my husband to wheel me back to my room and I cried.
When I was about 22 weeks I was informed that Isabella was small. No big deal was made about it, just that she was small and they would keep an eye on her. Since they were already keeping an eye on my placenta due to placenta previa, it wasn’t much of a big deal. Then one day my doctor casually told me that she was IUGR and sometimes that meant having the baby as early as 28 weeks because they tend to thrive better outside of the uterus at a certain point. Scary stuff. Thankfully my doctor was so laid back and chill that I didn’t have a major panic attack, but I was worried. I kept wondering what the heck IUGR was? According to the American Pregnancy Association:
The most common definition of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a fetal weight that is below the 10th percentile for gestational age as determined through an ultrasound. This can also be called small-for gestational age (SGA) or fetal growth restriction.
There is no one solid thing that accounts for IUGR, but the American Pregnancy Association lists these as conditions that could put one at greater risk factors:
- Maternal weight of less than 100 pounds
- Poor nutrition during pregnancy
- Birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities
- Use of drugs, cigarettes, and/or alcohol
- Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH)
- Placental abnormalities
- Umbilical cord abnormalities
- Multiple pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes in the mother
- Low levels of amniotic fluid or oligohydramnios
The thing is, I had none of this at the time. However, during my pregnancy I went from having low blood pressure to having preeclampsia, and when Isabella was born we found out that she had a very small placenta.
I’ll never forget looking at her wrinkly skin and tiny 4lb frame. I knew in my head that we were blessed. Yes, there were other babies much smaller and yes, she was healthy except for her size, but man. This was my baby and I felt guilty for my baby that was in my body being so tiny. Did I not eat enough protein? Was there something else I could’ve done to help her? I was crazy in denial about her size while pregnant. This kid moved so much and I could see her butt shifting across my belly when she moved. I thought she couldn’t possibly be as tiny as they said she was and ultrasound techs are often wrong, right? Not in this case.
Because she was able to breathe on her own and her blood sugar and body temperature were fine, she only stayed in the NICU for 1 week. Our goal after that was just helping her gain weight. When I was pregnant with her she went from the 2nd percentile, to the 5th, then finally the 8th. Today she is in the 12th percentile, so still very tiny for her age. It no longer kills me on the inside when someone makes a remark about how tiny she is, but in the beginning it crushed me. And sometimes I’m still sad that she looks like a 2 month old when she’s actually 5 months old, but what can I do? We feed her when she’s hungry, giving her an extra half teaspoon of formula with every bottle (per the pediatricians instructions) and we wait. I’m apart of some wonderful IUGR communities on facebook and one thing I know is that you can’t predict how your child is going to turn out in a few months, not even in a few years. Everyone’s IUGR baby is different. Some of them stay tiny forever, others have mental delays. Some are normal on the charts now and are doing exceptionally well. All we can do is pray and try to help her reach her full potential as best we can. I can say that Isabella is passing every test and meeting every milestone, even exceeding some of them (rolling over at 2.5 weeks? Check!). Today she is fascinated with trying to dance like her big sister. I am beyond thankful for her progress. Every time I get sad it is ushered out by all the thankfulness I feel.
For more information on IUGR Please visit the American Pregnancy Association
For support wth your IUGR diagnosis you can join this awesome facebook group.
To keep up with my tribe, please follow me on instagram and facebook.