This Preemie's #TransformationTuesday Highlights the Power of the NICU

An honest Instagram account captures the highs and lows of NICU life.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
April 5, 2018
preemie baby being held at hospital
Image: Getty Images

At 3 months old, baby Grace only weighs about 5 pounds. But she’s come a long way since she made her debut at 23 weeks, weighing in at only 1 pound. In an effort to track Grace’s NICU journey, her mom, Mary Parkinson, shared a #TransformationTuesday Instagram. It’s a bit jarring if you’ve never seen a micro preemie, but it’s a huge testament to the lifesaving innovations in neonatal intensive care units.

While any baby born earlier than 37 weeks is considered premature, birth at 23 weeks just passes the mark of what many doctors consider viable. It used to be 24 weeks, but a 2015 study published in The New England Journal Of Medicine showed that even without medical intervention, 3.4 percent of babies born at 22 weeks survived without severe impairments. That was good enough to dedicate more resources toward them.

Some of the resources Grace has received along the way? Emergency surgery for a perforated bowel, heat light treatment for jaundice, a feeding tube, surgery to adjust her catheter because her veins were too weak, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to help keep her lungs open as she learns to breathe. Parkinson has been faithfully documented all of these challenges, plus all of Grace’s milestones, on Instagram.

Seriously, any parent of a preemie should considering giving her a follow. Beyond explaining the technicalities of the NICU, Parkinson demonstrates that each low is matched by a high. February, in particular, was a big month for Grace. She started breast milk, passed her echocardiogram and even got strong enough to start attempting to pull her tubes out.

Grace is still in the NICU, but she’s out of her incubator and completely IV-free. As any NICU parent will attest, celebrating each milestone is so important. See what advice real parents of preemies have to offer other moms and dads in their shoes here.

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