Inside the NICU

Norah’s Story

This next World Prematurity Week post comes from Jennifer, who gave us something she and her partner wrote during their daughter’s first few weeks of life. Thank you to Jen, Lindsay, Eddie, Norah & Stella for sharing!

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Norah Elizabeth Aoife Harrop was born at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, at 10:02pm via emergency C-section on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014. At a little over 27 weeks gestation, Norah came 13 weeks early and weighed in at 3.1lbs. We don’t know why she decided to come early, and we’ve learned that it’s pretty common not to know. Two and a half hours after the first contraction at 6:30pm, we learned that there was nothing to do to prevent delivery. An hour after that, Norah arrived. 

During her 12 week hospital stay, we wrote a daily blog to keep our families and friends updated on her progress. This seemed like a kindness to others, but it was really because we didn’t know moment to moment whether we’d be able to bear a one on one conversation about Norah’s health or future. Below is an excerpt from the blog, four weeks in. We were still completely overwhelmed by the experience, and overwhelmed by our support system. We were (and are) painfully aware that not all NICU families are as lucky as ours. 


Norah at 2 days

Today, Norah is four weeks old. The last four weeks have been the most hectic, love-filled, scary and difficult of our lives. The range of emotion is incredible – in dark moments we curse our terrible luck. When the cloud lifts, we realize that we are even luckier than we ever knew.

As sometimes stubbornly independent and polite people, we try not to ask people for anything that might inconvenience them. It is so humbling to be at a point where we will brazenly ask for whatever our friends and family might be able to provide. If we haven’t asked you yet, we will. It takes a village to support our family right now.

We have discovered that our family and friends are even more amazing than we thought. We have discovered that without asking, each of them will take it upon themselves to help lift a little weight off of us to make this time easier.

Our parents have put their lives on hold to help in any way they can. And do we ever accept. Babysitting, unpacking, making all decisions on our reno from Norah’s birthday on, taking our two year old son Eddie for overnights so that we can sleep and so much more. We all owe our parents gratitude, but this has been above and beyond.

Family from near and far have helped in so many ways. Emails, cards and texts to let us know that they’re thinking of us. Food, babysitting, personal concierge services and more. A well timed call, long term doggy boarding, and pastries at the hospital. It’s all been crucial to our survival.

Friends have acted as personal chefs, nannies, personal assistants and fetchers of frozen drinks. Sources of information – medical, developmental, updates on the outside world, and being our cheerleaders.

Co-workers have put aside their own personal lives to cover for me; I’m is still working reduced hours and left on zero notice during a very busy time. They are full of encouragement and not a word of complaint about missed emails, general lack of focus, and sometimes just not being there.

Lindsay’s coworkers have been supportive beyond belief and reason.  She didn’t have to worry about any lesson planning or test marking – the math department took over and got her supply going without her having to lift a finger.

Our extended circle stretches beyond what we could have dreamed. Notes, comments, and blog views from friends of our parents, and parents and siblings of our friends.

Above all else, we have felt so much love over the last four weeks. Thank you all for everything you’ve done, whether we captured it here or not. And whether we were functioning enough at the time to say thank you. Thank you all for your continued support. The blog alone averages over 100 page views daily. It makes us feel like we have a huge crowd behind us, holding us up when we’re too tired, discouraged or scared to do it alone.

So on Norah’s four week birthday, we thank you. We will thank you all for the rest of our lives. And we’ll continue to lean on you for a while.

All our love,

Jen, Lindsay, Eddie, Norah & Stella


Norah at nearly 6 months (3 months corrected)


About the author


Kate Robson