I love blogs; I mean I write for one so I must. Most recently I started reading a friend of mine’s blog and realized we had a similar story and we didn’t even know it. When I look back, this smarty mom and I have seemed to have things in common ever since we first met. I mean we both worked at a super cool ad agency in account service, we both got married around the same time and our first houses were even a block or two apart. Our lives have sort of mirrored each other, even in one very special way. You see I had my baby at 35 weeks and the amazing mom you are about to meet had her daughter at 34 weeks. Premature labor is scary and the road you walk with a preemie is even scarier! I thought everyone should meet Jennifer Hull (and feel free to check out her blog). We all have our very special birth stories and Jennifer’s has really touched me. Meet Jennifer Hull!
Name: Jennifer Hull
Husband: Brent Hull
Kid – Carson (1 year)
Married (how long): It will be 6 years this September.
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Lived in Charlotte: 7 years
When did you first realize you were in premature labor?
I actually didn’t know I was in premature labor. I woke up with some bleeding, but I was not concerned, since the baby books said it could be a multitude of things. Of course, I called the doctor and got an appointment that morning. They ran a few tests and that is when I knew I was in premature labor – when the doctor told me. I was shocked. At that point, I was 32 weeks.
What was the hardest part about being confined to the hospital?
The worrying. And not being able to really shower.
I didn’t look at bedrest as a bad thing. I looked at it as my first job of being a mommy. If sitting in bed, resting for two weeks is what I needed to do to get my daughter to a healthy stage, I was doing it. I was going to do whatever it took to get her to 34 weeks.
However, my biggest challenge was having too much time to think. There were so many “what-if’s” and at times those were really all-consuming, so I would have to redirect those thoughts into something positive. I knew if I stayed positive, Carson would be able to feel that positive energy.
When you realized you were having Carson at 34 weeks, how did you mentally prepare for the road ahead?
There were several things that I (we) did.
First, I had just finished my second semester of graduate school and was working, so I hadn’t completed the nursery or taken that many birthing classes. So my mom, in-laws and husband were rock stars. My mom got the nursery ready, ran errands, cooked dinners, and got the house in order. My husband and his parents did the yard work and cooked dinners for us too. (My mom flew in from Texas, and my dad flew in closer to the birth of Carson.) This kind of support helped make my job a little easier, since I knew those things were being handled.
Second, I am a visual learner, so I really didn’t want to watch videos on the birthing process, even though I had plenty of time. I figured I would wing it, and just let the doctors do their thing.
But preparing for a premature baby was harder. The nurses and doctors give pretty realistic expectations and for me, that was hard to hear. We knew we could have possible breathing problems, since her lungs may not be fully developed. Feeding could have been a challenge also, but we just had to wait and see the hand we were dealt. While on bed rest, my husband and I took a tour of the NICU. I think that was one of the hardest nights. Just seeing all of those tiny babies hooked up to machines and thinking that our baby was going to join them really frightened me. So I think mentally, I prepared knowing what could happen, but hoped for the best.
What was your biggest hurdle in having a premature baby?
I think we got lucky with Carson. She came out very healthy, but tiny – 4 pounds and 6.5 ounces. She came out breathing and she was a good eater. I think the biggest hurdle was not being able to take her home when I was able to go home. That was hard. Leaving the hospital was very bittersweet. I had been there for exactly two weeks, and was excited about finally going home, but I wasn’t able to go home with my baby and that was very difficult.
Why did you start the blog?
I started my blog (http://34weeksearly.blogspot.com/) for a class project. Like I said, I am a graduate student at Queens University of Charlotte, and for my summer course, I had to blog about a “pet passion” of mine.
Well, I didn’t really know what that would be. I was talking to another professor about the course, and we got to talking about my experience in the hospital. He was the one who encouraged me to write about my experience.
And writing has been really cathartic. During the experience, I could only write the updates to friends and family. I never posted anything about it on facebook because it just felt weird posting it to the world to see. I could talk about it to friends and family, but this process has been so helpful for me and I think for others. For me personally, it’s been nice to share my stories and see the comments and feedback that I have gotten from others; especially friends who didn’t know what to do for me at the time. I think it is a hard place for friends and family, since they may feel helpless but want to be there for someone. (And I told them there was nothing you could do except for what you did – send good thoughts and prayers!)
I really hope this blog turns into a resource for women and families who are going through a similar experience. While I was going through it, I do remember wishing I could talk to someone that was either in the exact same place or who had already gone through something similar. So maybe this will help a woman who is sitting in the hospital looking for something to connect to.
What have you learned by looking back at your experience and writing about it?
I think foremost that people wanted to read about it. I kept telling my class, “My story isn’t special. Everyone has their own birthing story that is unique, special and their own.” But my class was so supportive about letting me open up and share my story.
I’ve also feel that my friends and family have a better understanding of what I went through. Just reading their comments have been so touching. I want them to know that they were so supportive and there for me – even if they weren’t physically in the room with me. That going through an experience like this you really do need a support system to help hold you up. And they totally did that throughout the entire process!! (SO THANK YOU!!!!)
Favorite “mommy time” activity?
Getting my nails done. As for the nerd in me, it’s going to class (getting the homework done is another story).
Favorite girls night out spot?
I have a “Supper Club” and we usually just meet at someone’s house for dinner, which is always a good time. But if we are going out – Cantina, Village Tavern, or any place that has a good drink special!
Best place to eat for date night?
Depending on how “fancy” the date is:
McCormick & Schmick’s
Favorite weekend escape?
Brent and I went down to Atlanta for a wedding a couple of months ago and it was so nice to get away and stay at a very nice hotel. We also went to Wild Dunes for our anniversary last year and it was a great way to spend the weekend and reconnect.
Favorite place to buy clothes for girls?
I love Janie and Jack, but it is out of my price range. I love Chocolate Soup too. I’ve gotten a ton of cute dresses from there. Thankfully, my mother-in-law loves to shop for Carson, so she has done a great job filling up Carson’s closet.
We haven’t really explored too many parks, but Carson loves to be outside. We have weekly softball games at Park Road Park, but I am looking forward to taking her to Freedom Park and Latta Park to splash around.
Mini-van or SUV?
I love my Highlander.
Best book you’ve read lately?
Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I loved it. It’s hilarious!
I also just read Carmine Gallo’s The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs for class. If you need a little inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, this is a wonderful book.
And one of my all-time favorite books is A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
Hipstamatic. I love taking pictures, and this app is really neat. It can make the photos look vintage, or change the coloring to enhance them in different ways. It has been fun to play around on it.
Smartiest way you save $$?
Coupons, coupons, coupons. I have a coupon book that I put all the coupons I receive in there, so as long as I remember that and have a coupon for what I need, then I am good to go!