Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Barreling Into Our Lives

Our baby Bryce came barreling into our lives and hearts on June 7, 2009. I was just 24 weeks along and feeling run down but never guessed I was going into labor. It wasn’t until that evening as I took a warm shower in an attempt to relax that I realized something was very, very wrong. By the time I could get out of the shower and alert Caleb, my husband, the contractions were crippling and too close together. Only minutes later my water broke on our bedroom floor and with the very next contraction Bryce came.

Caleb immediately called 911 and the operator walked us through giving Bryce CPR. Caleb gave him breaths, and I gave the compressions because Caleb’s hands were too big to do compressions on our 1 pound 8 oz baby boy. After what seemed like an eternity, but was only a few minutes, paramedics arrived, cut Bryce’s umbilical cord and transported us both to Cedar Park Regional Medical Center. Later that night a transport team from Dell Children’s Medical Center arrived and brought Bryce to me to say goodbye before they whisked him away to their NICU where he would spend the next 150 long days fighting to survive.

Despite the severe emotional trauma of Bryce’s birth, it would prove to be those following months that would take their toll on us. Surgeries began only a few days after Bryce’s arrival and seem to this day to loom ever-present on the horizon. But despite severe grade III and IV brain bleeds that caused hydrocephalus (also termed water on the brain), many shunts to control the excess fluid in his brain, heart surgery, eye surgery, a hole in one lung and 4 long months on the ventilator before finally being extubated, today Bryce is a cheerful 18-pound, 19-month-old who loves to give kisses and can instantly light up a room.

I found that we put so much effort into surviving the NICU that we were ill prepared for the struggles of being home with a medically fragile baby and no nurses or doctors to quell our many fears and concerns. I began seeking out other preemie moms online, through the website Meet Up, on Facebook and through any other avenue I could find. But I was time and time again I found myself disappointed by the lack of availability for what seemed like a simple service.

And then one day at yet another specialist appointment a fellow preemie mom, Allie Alter, recognized Bryce and as we briefly visited, both anxious to relate to someone, she mentioned Hand to Hold. At that time, a bit over a year ago, Hand to Hold was just getting started but I immediately called and offered to help – eager to connect in any way possible. Kelli Kelley sweetly informed me that I didn’t qualify to mentor yet (due to the short time we had been home from the hospital) but after talking with me, which I very much appreciated, she connected me to my mentor, Stephanie. Stephanie and I both lead busy lives with our precious boys taking precedent and so although we sometimes find it difficult to get together as often as we might like I know I can call on her anytime. And even more importantly, I know she gets it, I mean really gets it. That, to me, is priceless.

In addition to being mentored by Stephanie, we have attended both discussion series events to date and plan to continue to do so. The quarterly events have been tremendously helpful as we navigate the post NICU world with our special needs son. We have gained valuable information on a variety of important topics ranging from ways of coping with our struggles, to parenting strategies for children with Cerebral Palsy and therapy beyond ECI (Early Childhood Intervention).  We’re very much looking forward to the upcoming Discussion Series in February 2011 as the divorce rate for children with special needs exceeds the already staggeringly high rate for all U.S. marriages.

It’s hard to imagine where our little family would be today without Hand to Hold. I fear we’d be less prepared for the many challenges of this special kind of parenting. As I personally witnessed at the recent Preemie Power event, if you get a room of preemies together you’ll find a wonderfully diverse collection of amazing children and their super-dedicated parents, happy to prove the old cliché right: it takes a village to raise a child.

Read more about the Moline family’s journey on Bryce’s blog.

Katrina Moline About Katrina Moline

Katrina A. Moline (TX) is a special needs mom to her micropreemie, Bryce. He was born at 24 weeks at home, where she and her husband gave him CPR until medical responders arrived. He spent 150 days in the NICU at Dell Children's in Austin, TX. Bryce has hydrocephalus with a VP shunt, is legally blind with glasses, has mild cerebral palsy and severe, global developmental delays. In July of 2012 she gave birth to her second child only one day shy of 37 weeks and with no complications. She posts regularly on her personal blog about life with a micropreemie, her struggles, accomplishments and family.

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