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  • Writer's pictureSarah Nantel


I'm Melissa, I am a wife to the love of my life and mama of three of the strongest, most determined kids around.


I went into labor the morning of March 21, 2011. Early labor is such a scary thing, you question yourself wondering, "is this Braxton Hicks or the real thing". I waited for my husband to get home from work that day to let him know what was going on and after timing my contractions and the push from my husband I reluctantly headed out the door to the High River Hospital, a 45 minute drive from my house. We chose this hospital instead of one of the 4 in our city to have the perks of a "small town" delivery. Private Rooms, visitors, my husband could spend the night with me and our new bundle of joy. Upon arriving the worst was confirmed to us, I was in labor and needed to get into a hospital in Calgary ASAP, as they were not equipped to handle a birth at this gestation. I was exactly 33 weeks pregnant.

After five days of no sleep, no food, painkillers, 4 roommates + contractions my son Nixon James was born at 33 weeks and 5 days weighing a tiny 4lbs 10oz. I was able to give him a kiss on the head before he was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. My hospital room went from ten people to three in a matter of seconds. I remember laying there in the silent room feeling confused as to what had just happened. Was my son going to be ok? Where did they take him to? Why couldn't I carry him to term? I was supposed to still be carrying him... I felt as though I had failed to provided a safe space for my son to grow, I had failed as his mother.

He spent 21 days in the NICU at Rockyview General Hospital learning how to eat and grow. It was the most emotional time we had ever experienced. I blamed myself and thought maybe I was too active in my pregnancy, so when I became pregnant with my twins I made the tough decision after 15 years, to not go back to teaching dance.

Fast forward to my pregnancy with my twins.


My pregnancy was pretty textbook, then everything changed in a matter of moments. I had a play date with a friend planned the morning of October 5, 2012 at a local tot spot. I told her I was just feeling off as we sat there and watched our kids play, the twins were the most active I had ever felt in this pregnancy and my abdomen literally looked as though my twins were putting on a circus act for each other. I continued on with my day, not even considering that I could be in labor at 26 weeks gestation.

When my husband got home from work that evening he again had to convince me to go into the hospital. Upon arriving at Rockyview General Hospital it was very quickly discovered that I was in fact in labor and that I needed to be transferred to Foothills Medical Centre right away where they are equipped to handle births under 32 weeks gestation.I remember laying there after being transferred by ambulance with far too many people around me to count. Nurses dropping pills in my mouth to stop my contractions, poking me with needles, and the Neonatal team of doctors talking to me and my husband about what the outcome may be if my babies were born that day. The only thing I remember thinking was, what did I do to cause this? I thought I had done everything right!

The next 5 day were a blur of medication, monitoring, Thanksgiving dinner in my hospital bed and tears. On day five the contractions slowed down to almost obsolete, I was discharged from the hospital the evening of October 10th and was home for a short few hours before the contractions started up again. I laid in bed beside my husband in denial that this was happening. An hour later we were headed back into the hospital only this time the contractions were 10X stronger than before. I'm not sure how I manged to walk from the parking lot up to the labor an delivery floor but some sort of superhuman strength kicked in and I did it. I will spare you the details of what happened next, but being rushed into the OR for an emergency c-section was not in our birth plan, we didn't have a birth plan, I was only 6 months pregnant. We weren't ready and neither were my two tiny babies.

Our twins were born at 26 week, 5 days weighing 1lb15oz (Rome Jacob) & 1lb13oz (Hadley Grace). Being rolled through the doors of the NICU hours later to see my babies for the first time was surreal, I felt like I was living a bad dream. Seeing my teeny tiny little ones hooked up to ventilators through their isolates, closed off, protected from this world. I can't even begin to explain the emotions I felt...Not knowing how our two precious babies would come out of this; or worse, if they would come out. This now became the most difficult and most emotional journey we had ever experienced.

The thing about premature labour is they can't always explain why it happens, for me this was the case when I went into labour at 33 weeks with my singleton and at 26 weeks with my twins. Rome and Hadley spent a combined total of 179 days in 4 different NICU's in Calgary with many different complications along the way.

With all of this behind me and our kids healthy, I was inspired to give back. In turn a big part in the creation of Jacob.Grace Designs as well the hand drawn "Small + Mighty" tee, which has a portion of the proceeds going back through The Calgary Health Trust to the five NICU's here in Calgary, Alberta. I will never be able to truly thank all the doctors and nurses who gave my children round the clock care and saved their lives, but I'm hopeful to help them help other families like mine by giving back.

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