Francesca Maria.

My Life, day by day, from Birth.

Welcome to my site My name is Francesca Maria, I was born on April 22, 2007, a 29-week premature baby (preemie), weighing only 1.46 kilos. I will post here some news about me as I grow up. If you're new to my site, start at the bottom. Happy viewing!

NOTE: This is Part 1 (birth to 1 month old)
- Next is Part 2 (1-2 months till homecoming)
- Freshest News (Part 3) is HERE.

May 21 AM: I got my first postal letter today.

Again one of those proud days for me. For the first time in my life I got a letter, a real letter, from the U.S. Postal Service. And it included my new Social Security Card, just for me! I quickly signed it and handed it over to my parents for safekeeping. You can see little copies below. By the way, my Dad warned me about identity theft, that's why I hid the number from view, I hope you'll understand.

May 20: I am 4 weeks old!

Boy does time fly, 4 Sundays ago I was thrown into this world totally unprepared. Well now I know my way pretty well already. Now if you look at my Mom's face on the two photos below, all I can say is that she looks very very happy to hold me, that's why I am making a big effort to suck on that big bottle of milk. I'm making progress, within 3-4 more days it will have no more secrets for me and they should take that tube out of my nose. I'm looking forward to that. Read about Preemie Feeding on my Useful page.

May 19: My Dad fed me today!

Good day for me, my Dad held me in his arms and explained to me how best to suck on the milk bottle. It's not that hard really, I think I understand it now, it's just a little tiring, that's why I can only do a little every day. But since my Dad told me I was doing great that put me in a good mood for the whole day, well for the part of the day that I don't sleep (about 2-4 hours per day). Oh, by the way, have you noticed they took out the IV from my head? That's a great relief, I did not like it too much. Now I only have that tube in the nose, but it helps to feed me when I am too tired to suck, so I don't mind it. My numbers today are as follows: I weigh 1940 grams and they feed me 30 ml of milk every 3 hours.

You can click on any one of the little photos to see a bigger one.

May 18: How can I eat while sleeping?

Everything is going well, the only problem is that when they tried to feed me with the bottle today I was sleeping and having a nice dream, and I did not want to wake up just for eating. So I sucked in only part of the bottle, and they let the rest flow to my stomach through the tube so I could continue sleeping. The nurse said I'd eventually get used to sucking from the bottle, it's a reflex that comes with time.

May 17: My Mom came to feed me.

It's not easy to eat on my own, but I am doing my best. It's good my Mom came to hold the bottle for me as I would be totally incapable of holding it and sucking at the same time. They moved to 20 ml per 3 hours, of which twice a day by bottle, and they said tomorrow they will do even more. That's progress!

May 16: I drink milk like a big girl.

I think I am now definitely growing up. Kids my age (33 weeks gestational age) would still be kicking in their Mummy's tummy, whereas today at 5 PM the nurse gave me a milk bottle, and I drank from it with no problems. They still have a tube going through my nose to my stomach to monitor what's going on down there, and to feed me more milk when I am sleeping so they don't have to wake me up. I am quite tired these days as sucking on a bottle does take some effort. But little by little I shall be drinking from the bottle regularly and I hope soon I won't have that uncomfortable tube in my nose. By the way, did I tell you I weigh now 1900 grams and they are now giving me 15 ml of milk every 3 hours?

Click on little photo on the left to see a bigger one.

May 15: I got a blood transfusion today.

I'm doing fine in terms of eating, I'm now digesting my Mom's milk at a rate of 12 ml every 3 hours, it's very tasty. The only problem is that it seems my hemoglobin (red cell count in the blood) is a little low, and so the doctors are worried I have a little anemia. As you can see on the photo they are giving me a blood transfusion, that should put back everything into place. I don't want you to worry, though, you can read about this frequent occurrence on my Useful Info Page. And by the way, do you like my cute kimono top?

Click on little photo on the left to see a bigger one.

May 14: I am now a real person!

I am so proud, I received today my official Birth Certificate. It's the first time I get such a beautiful official document. Apart from that, I digested well the Alimentum, so they started giving me my mother's milk, we'll find out tomorrow how it goes. I weigh now 1740 grams, much better than the 1460 at birth and low point after birth of 1260 grams. My dad today took tons of photos of me and my Mom, and he made a special web album for you to see with today's 20 photos. 4 of those photos are shown below. By the way you can click on any of the photos below to see them a little bigger.

May 13: I'm 3 weeks old today!

Since today is mother's day, I wanted to do my best to make my Mom happy, and so I digested all the Alimentum they gave me. The nurses were also very happy, and they decided to start feeding me every 3 hours instead of every 6 hours. So I can enjoy my Sunday and go back to sleep, at least till next feeding. By the way, I don't know whether you noticed, I have on the nice hat my mom brought me the other day, as well as a very soft Preemie kimono-top of babyGAP. Both pink, of course, my favorite color.

Click on little photo on the left to see a bigger one.

May 12: My tummy is ok, knock on wood.

Please knock on wood, up to now my tummy is ok, and they will move from diluted Alimentum to full-strength Alimentum tonight, I hope that I will digest it well. I will tell you tomorrow how it goes. One more thing: refresh your browser and you will see on the menu to the left a new section called "My Photos", by Pufichek. You can click on the little blue triangle at the bottom right of the screen (third icon from the right) and a slideshow of 29 photos will play for you. Enjoy!

May 11: They are feeding me again.

Some positive changes to report: first they stopped the antibiotics, that's good. Second the doctor said that the nurse could start feeding me again, my tummy looked okay this morning. She is giving me every 6 hours 3 milliliters of some easy-to-digest formula called "Alimentum", which is lactose-free, just in case I am sensitive to intact protein. It's not much, but better than nothing. Tomorrow we will see how it goes. Oh, I forgot to say my Mom held me in her arms and was telling me funny stories, I really liked listening to her, I can see she loves me very much.

May 10: My Dad made me feel better.

My tummy is much improved today and I can sleep and breathe better. I now weigh 1,600 grams, the same as yesterday, but 100 grams more than 2 days ago. My Mom says my cheeks are more round and I look plump, which I took as a compliment. But the best part of the day was when my Dad gave me a soft back and head massage (see photos below), that was wonderful!

May 9: Tests and more tests.

The doctors kept doing all kinds of tests on me, it's very tiring. I have a tummy ache and the doctors think I have Meconium Plug (see useful page for info) and so they did a gastrografin enema on me which they say is safe, diagnostic and therapeutic, and that I will soon get better. Now I have to continue doing the same - wait and grow. Ok, I'll take a nap now, my Mom is watching me so I can sleep well. Talk to you later, zzzzz...

May 8: I held my Mom's and Dad's fingers.

Today I had several exams, it feels just like during exam week, a little stressful. Well my platelet count is up a little, so they made another exam on my tummy and I think I passed it (I will find out tomorrow). Then after all that time spent out away from my bed, I came back to sleep, and how nice it was to fall asleep while holding my Mom's and Dad's finger! One more important piece of news: my umbilical cord (or what was left of it) fell off, my nurse found it somewhere in my sheets. And look at the photos below, my fingers are growing, and my nails too! I'll soon need to go and have a manicure, I hope they have a beauty salon in this hospital. But I must say it was nice to hold my Dad's finger, that gave me confidence in the future.

May 7: I need more time to get better.

The doctor talked to my parents for quite a while today. I did not understand anything, but I overheard the word "thrombocytopenia". I looked it up on Google and put the results on my "Useful Info" page. In summary they will keep me on antibiotics for a few more days and follow my platelet count, hope it gets better. They are not feeding me yet, they want my tummy to improve. They say time will fix it all, after all I am now only 31 weeks of gestational age, most kids are born at 40 weeks. Therefore I think that I am quite advanced for my age.

May 6 PM: I love it when my Mom holds me. heartbeat

I'm having a nice day today, I love it when my Mom holds me, much better than being in the incubator, I can even smile to her so that she understands I don't want her to leave too soon.

May 6 AM: I'm two weeks old!

Peaceful Sunday for me today, I'm feeling fine and sleeping late. Tomorrow Monday they'll be doing all kinds of tests on me, so let me enjoy my weekend!

My 13th day (May 5, 2007): Much better!

Last night's blood transfusion did me a lot of good, my cell counts are fine, and I'm feeling much better today, stretching and yawning profusely, occasionally sneezing. My skin color is back to normal, I was kind of pale yesterday, everybody noticed it. The nurse took off the little tube in my nose, I am very happy about that. My breathing is fine now. On Monday I'll get the results of my blood test for infections, I hope it will be ok. Thanks for your emails of encouragement! P.S. Do you know tomorrow I will be 2 weeks old? That's 1/2 a month, quite a milestone, isn't it? UPDATE midnight: peacefully sleeping in new nightgown.

May 4: I'm feeling weak today.

Bad day for me, I got everybody worried. Everything is going wrong, my tummy is lumpy again, so they stoppped feeding me. I'm also have apnea (irregular breathing), and on top of all that they checked my blood and saw I have not enough of either white or red blood cells. The doctor said that to get me better I'll need a blood transfusion and probably some more antibiotics, but of a different kind than the ones I had previously. Now I only have enough strength to stay in bed and try to sleep. UPDATE midnight: They did the transfusion and gave me new antibiotics and I already feel a little better, let's hope tomorrow's blood analysis will show some improvement.

Day 11 : I was hungry!

Thank God my nurse noticed I was hungry, and she increased my milk ration to 8 milliliters (from 5) every 3 hours. I gained 50 grams since yesterday, I'm at 1430 grams now. To celebrate that, I put on my new pink hat, I like it a lot. My parents also tried to teach me how to count with my fingers, but it was too hard, all I could do was move my fingers in all directions, and they were happy about that. It was exhausting though, and I fell asleep, holding my Mom's finger in my hand...

May 2: Good day for me: I turned 10 (days old)!

Maybe today was a gift to me for making it to the 10-day mark. First they stopped the course of antibiotics I was on since birth, that's cool. Also, no more bright lights on me, since my level of bilirubin is now normal. Then finally I got to digest my mother's milk (via direct tube to my stomach), hurray! 5 milliliters is not very much of course, but every 3 hours, it adds up. I weigh already 1380 grams today and my nurse said I could gain up to 50 grams a day, my parents seemed happy about that. Below you can see a photo of the nurse letting the next portion flow to my tummy. You can also see me sucking on my finger, I only recently found out how much fun that is. Please don't confuse that with biting my nails, I do not bite my nails, that's a bad habit to have. You can also see below a photo of my mother holding me. She brought me a new t-shirt and a matching hat, I hope they will put them on me tomorrow so I can look my best and impress my NICU little neighbors (yes some kids are actually smaller than me).


It's May 1 and I will shoot for June 3!

I had ups and downs today. Let me start with the downs: the nurse put on me a white t-shirt, and even though it seemed to be a small size, it was way too big for me. I need Extra Small Newborn size. Well it covered me like a blanket, so that's not so bad after all. But it is definitely not sexy and I am ashamed of being photographed in it, so I tried to sleep all day to forget about it. I hope my Mom will bring me a nice small t-shirt that will fit me well one of these days. Now for the positive news: I overheard the nurse speaking to my parents, she said that the process is under way, they will try to feed me again tomorrow and that they hope that my stomach will be able to digest my Mummy's milk. Apart from that, she said that the usual earliest legal discharge date would be when I reach 1800 grams, and also the 35th week milestone. If I calculate correctly that comes out to be on June 3, since today is week 30.2. Well while I want to go home, here they take care of me well, and so we'll have to wait till I am in good shape to take the long trip home.

My Mom held me in her arms, for the first time!

My tummy is still not working right, and they keep giving me X-rays (via a portable X-ray machine, see photo below), I would prefer to eat the normal way rather than through IV, I'm only 1330 grams right now. One positive thing is that my Mom came and held me in her arms for about 30 minutes tonight. It was so nice and peaceful that I slept the whole time she held me. By the way, thanks for all the emails you have been sending, I am overwhelmed! I love emails!

Day 8: I opened my eyes to the camera.

Since I graduated to my second week I decided it was time to open my eyes to the camera, you can see the result below. My doctor says I still have "feeding intolerance" and they are still clearing my stomach with tubes and feeding me proteins and vitamins through IV. He says he does not know why this is, but that it happens. Tomorrow again they will try to feed me normally, I hope it will work this time.

Click here to enlarge

One week ago I was born.Times really flies.

My parents came to see me late in the evening, practically 1 week after I was born. I slept the whole time, quite peacefully really, I did not even feel my Mom caressing my back. I'm sleepy from answering the many emails I got today, thanks to all for writing. Maybe tomorrow I'll be more up to communication, let's see. One more thing, for the statistics lovers. I was born at 1460 grams, but since then went down to 1260 grams (they tell me that's normal), and now am going back up to 1310 grams, good. I hope soon they'll start again giving me my Mom's milk and that my stomach will tolerate it, I hate those morning X-rays, tomorrow one more of them is planned.

New photos taken the day I was born!

Have a look at some great photos taken by Pierre-W. Henry the day I was born (April 22) by clicking here. I show 2 examples below. Quite good photos!

Life is not easy for premature babies.

Today April 27 was not as smooth as I hoped. My Mom's milk that they gave me last night, although the perfect meal for me, was not accepted well by my stomach, and so the doctors decided to starve me for two more days. Apart from that, I'm having some trouble breathing regularly, as you can see on the monitor (the yellow line), and the nurse threatened to put me back on the respirator tomorrow, I hope she won't. Tomorrow morning they will take me for an X-ray, although I would prefer to sleep late, it's Saturday after all. So I guess it's what they told us the first day, there will be some steps forward and some steps back. Well for now I will sleep and hope for the best. I hope tomorrow I will get some emails of encouragement, I like them. I got 2 emails today, that's great, thanks, keep them coming!

Tonight April 26 my parents came to see me!

My parents and Grandma came to see me tonight, but since I was so tired after the difficult 4 first days of my life that I slept most of the time, so sorry if the photos are somewhat boring. But at least you'll see that they took off my respirator as well as the IV in my head, it's much more comfortable now. The nurse also promised to start feeding me during the night my mother's milk. Even though it will be through the tube that goes through my mouth to my tummy I am sure I will like it. I'll tell you about my first feeding tomorrow.

I am three days old today April 25.

Today started pretty badly with all those cables and respirator in my nose. But there was good news in the evening, my oxygen levels have increased and so they finally took off that horrible plastic respirator and even the head IV, what a relief! They also turned off the bright light and took off my blindfold, so I was able to open my eyes, and see my Mom and Dad who came to visit me late in the evening. I hope they come back tomorrow since I am quite tired now and need to go back to sleep, so many emotions these last 3 days... Please forgive my parents for forgetting their camera, I hope they'll photograph me tomorrow, as I look much better without the respirator. They filmed me on video this morning, soon my Dad will post the movie on this page (unless he films a better video tomorrow). He also will work on a whole CD of photos of his friend the well known photographer PWH, a pity I was not in top form when he came to photograph me the first day I was born. Maybe next time he comes to visit?

Playing with the cables , April 24, evening.

They put another IV in my head, painful. I hate all those cables, I'd like to pull them out, but it's too tough for me to do that right now, I can't see anything and can't move at all.

My Mom touched me , April 24, afternoon.

Look at how big my Mom's little finger is compared to my hand. I have lots of growing to do. Well I could not really tell it was her hand since because of the bright light they blindfolded me. On top of that I am actually getting thinner since they don't feed me at all. At least they change my diapers every 6 hours.


My third day, April 24, morning.

I am still hooked up all over and hopefully getting better. They put an IV into my foot, I did not like that. My mother came and changed my diaper, that was cool. Some nice photos of me are below, some consolation for an otherwise miserable day.


My second day, April 23.

My parents are terribly worried about me, my heartbeat is irregular, and I breathe poorly. The doctors don't feed me because they say I have bacteria in my stomach and they need to clear them out first. The only good moment is that they allowed me to sleep on my tummy for a little while. I still have that horrible plastic tube in my nose. My Mom today has her birthday, but she is recuperating from the operation, so I suppose she did not go out to party this year. Funny we both have our birthdays only 1 day apart. My grandmother came to visit me today, it was nice to see her, she seems to like me a lot already, cool!


Still my first day, April 22, in the afternoon.

My dad finally got his "real" camera, and came and took some pictures of me. Still very uncomfortable, but nice photos of my feet. You see me all hooked up and there's also a photo of my mummy looking at me. The red on my feet is the pulse sensor, no big deal, I don't mind it at all. I hate all the other cables, though.

April 22, 6:15 AM. Totally hooked up.

Horrible. I can hardly breathe, and I am put into an incubator and all hooked up with cables from all sides. The photos sum it up. Life is tough. Well it turns out that life is not as tough as it could have been. The doctor just came to see my parents and told them that when they did the emergency C-section and took me out of my Mummy's tummy, they saw that my umbilical cord had a knot in it. That means that at any time I could have died in my Mummy's tummy and I would not have been here to write (rather, to inspire) these words, is that not horrible? Much more horrible than wearing that oxygen mask I suppose, so I will not complain too much about it. I guess one could then say I'm a miracle baby girl, born just in time? Do you agree?

April 22, at 1:10 AM. I was born, 11 weeks early.

I was quietly enjoying my mother's pregnancy, planning to be born on July 3, 2007, turning around and kicking in my mummy's tummy, which is very much fun, when suddenly my mummy had some urgent bleeding problem and rushed to the hospital, very late on Saturday night. To my surprise (and to my parents surprise too I guess), the doctor (his name was Dr. Guinot) was very decisive and said that there was only one way to go: Immediate C-section! I was not really ready for that, neither were my parents, they did not even bring along their camera, so all they had was their cell phone with camera, which explains the not terrific photos below, please forgive them. Let me add that's it's funny, my birthday is April 22, while my Mom's birthday is April 23, the next day. So I was born on April 22, while my Mom was 22, and the next day the 23rd she turned 23... Strange, is it not? Let me add a few words about my name. My parents chose the name(s) of Francesca Maria, in part of course because they liked that name, but also to honor my Great-Grandparents, Francesco and his wife Elena Maria. My name Francesca Maria is a combination of the first names of my Great-Grandparents. I hope you like it. I do. Much better than the "Babygirl" sticker they put on my foot the day I was born.

Listen to this nice song they sang to me as soon as I was born:
My first photo. Yes I'm tiny at 1.46 kilos and only 40 cm long. That's 3 lbs. 3 oz. and 15 3/4 inches. I am not happy at all to come out so early. I was supposed to stay in my Mummy's tummy 11 weeks more!
Then the doctors started to put all kinds of cables into me, horror! This is the way I looked 1 hour after birth, quite awful.

Start here. This is the beginning. Then go up.

Start here. This is the beginning. Then go up.

© 2007 Francesca Maria.

Made on a Mac. Of course.
Apple Computer

Famous Preemies:

Albert Einstein
Isaac Newton
Napoleon Bonaparte
Winston Churchill
Victor Hugo
Anna Pavlova

About Victor Hugo:

Although there is no positive proof that Victor Hugo was born prematurely, it is likely judging from several descriptions of his birth and infancy. Hugo entered the world on February 26, 1802, landing in Besancon, France. His mother described him as "no longer than a knife." It seemed unlikely that the tiny baby would survive; in fact, it is said that Victor's coffin was ordered from the carpenter at the same time as his cradle. He later told Alexandre Dumas that even at 15 months he could not hold his head erect. Like many preemies, Hugo was determined to live and make his mark on society. He was a tiny baby born into a broken home, but he was to become one of the greatest writers of all time as well as a major figure in French politics.

Albert Einstein said:

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.”