Her pregnancy — and now, motherhood — gives Kirsten DesMarais perspective on what her parents experienced when she was born prematurely.
DesMarais, 26, was born at 28 weeks at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Her early arrival came as a surprise. Her mom was at the hospital for testing when a nurse told her she wouldn’t be leaving until she gave birth. The next day, DesMarais arrived, weighing 2 pounds, 14 ounces.
In an interview before the recent birth of her daughter, Lena Caroline, DesMarais said, “Even though I’ve been pregnant for over eight months, it’s still unreal that there’s going to be a baby to come out of this. It gives me a greater appreciation for what my parents and other parents went through having a baby so early.”
DesMarais and her husband, Phillip, welcomed Lena Caroline on Nov. 5, 10 days beyond her due date and after 20 hours of labor. Lena weighed approximately 7 pounds and was 20 inches long.
“I felt like we had extra time to mentally and physically prepare,” DesMarais said. “I couldn’t imagine having a baby three months early and not having any of that preparation for your first child.”
She also was able to hold and feed her daughter right away — experiences for which her mom had to wait. Becoming a mom is the “coolest, most-overwhelming thing ever; overwhelming in a good way,” DesMarais said.
“Everyone tells you to sleep when they sleep, but all you want to do is look at them. You can see them changing right in front of you,” she said. “I feel like I can see her growing every time I look at her.”
For a long time, DesMarais wanted to share her story to show others that babies who are born early still can thrive, as she has. Becoming a mom seemed like the right time.
“As young as I could understand, any time anyone talked about a baby they would talk about how I was born so little and that I was so lucky to get the care I did,” DesMarais said, adding that it was a miracle she survived being born so early 26 years ago.
Thanks to medical advances, new state-of-the-art facilities like The Mother Baby Center and philanthropy, outcomes for premature babies continue to improve since DesMarais was born.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Learn more.