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

Dawn’s Birth Story

He was born on April 10, 2011 at 11:53 a.m., weighing just under two pounds and fourteen inches long.  So small, so fragile, I must say had it not been for the strength of his father, my family, and friends I don’t think I would have made it through his eighty days in the NICU.

As I write the story the tears have already begun to flow.  He is now almost two years old and a happy, busy, strong toddler, into everything but I am not sure when the guilty feeling ends.

At my April 4, 2011 high risk doctor’s appointment, being over forty and having health issues the regular gynecologist thought it best for me to see them.  I was sent to the emergency room and admitted to St. Barnabas.  I was later diagnosed as having congestive heart failure, the high blood pressure and quick weight gain were too much for my heart, and told they may need to deliver the baby early in order to save both of our lives.  The next five days were filled with tests, medications, pokes, prods, and breathing treatments.  My family and friends came to visit and called me often to help keep me grounded and from worrying myself even sicker.  The first tests that they did would sometimes come back “not good,” and they would say “today could be the day,” but they would retest later and they would come back ok enough to wait a while longer.  I dealt with this for six days and five nights, and thought I would go crazy with worry.  Until the evening of April 9th, the team of doctors that I had, cardiologist, pulmonologist, nephrology, and hepatologist, all decided that it was time.  At exactly twenty seven weeks they could wait no longer because I was starting to develop preeclampsia. They would deliver him the next morning, and if they needed to put me to sleep I’d have to go through it alone.  The anesthesiologist explained they would give me a mild sedative but if it did not work daddy could not be in the room in fear of something going wrong.

I didn’t sleep much my whole time in the hospital but this night was probably the worst.  Daddy stayed with me and tried to assure me that everything would be fine.  The morning came and they came in to bring daddy’s scrubs and prep me for the c-section.  All I remember is going into the room seeing the doctors and nurses and that’s it.  Daddy said they gave me the sedative and I slept through the whole procedure.  I do remember them showing me the baby after he was born; at least I think I do.   I spent another five days in the hospital on a heart monitor after he was born and was advised to see a cardiologist once I was released.

The NICU “trip” was a true up and down road.  He had a few episodes of not breathing and machines going off in the beginning, but for the most part he was a strong baby and the doctors had high hopes for him from the start even being thirteen weeks early.  The doctor was amazed that he was able to lift his head so soon.  He did have one incident where his tummy was distended and they called and told us he would have to be put back into the stage one room for close monitoring and back on the machines.  He got better quickly and was soon back in the stage three room which was one step before the final release room.  Once in the final stage room we were able to have a lot more interaction with him.  Visiting was hard, knowing we had to leave him there and could not take him home with us.  But the time came when we were told to take his car seat for inspection and bring it in for his car seat test. He would soon be released.  It was a happy and scary time because we decided to use the heart monitor just in case he had any Brady episodes.  He was only on it for about a month with no major episodes, and although he had RSV late last year and a touch of pneumonia this year, he has been fine.  He loves to dance, climb, and get into everything like most toddlers.  As I await a glimmer of hope at getting my umbilical hernia surgery, for over a year now, I still battle the CHF and asthma, but my little light keeps me going even though some days I’d like to give up.

Aimee Sprik About Aimee Sprik

Aimee Sprik (IL) is mother to Connor, born unexpectedly early at 26 weeks, in December 2008, due to an infection. Connor, with his parents, survived a complicated 120-day NICU stay, which changed their lives forever. Since bringing her son finally home, she's felt passionately about volunteering her time and resources to supporting fellow NICU parents, both at the hospital where Connor was born, and by co-founding Life after NICU, an online parent support forum now moderated by Hand to Hold. You can follow Aimee on her personal blog, Sprik Space, or send her an email.

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