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

Kenneth’s Birth Story

My wife had complications with her first pregnancy and she was placed on total bedrest at approximately 20 weeks. By the grace of God she was stable until 36 weeks. At 36 weeks she went into full labor but was held off until 37 weeks. While our firstborn was not placed in NICU, our first week was spent in the hospital dealing with newborn jaundice, and at the beginning we only heard the word jaundice which scared us both to no end, at least until a nurse realized what was going on and sat us down and explained to us just what newborn jaundice actually was.

Our second child was conceived 3 years later and after the complications Jane had had she placed herself on restricted duty (at least as much as a 4 year old would allow), yet tried to maintain a positive and hopeful attitude. Both her history and her family history (her mom had 3 miscarriages and my wife is a survivor of both NICU and PICU having been born at approximately 28 weeks in 1969, and developed viral meningitis which turned into hydrocephalus requiring several surgeries and multiple shunts), made her extremely cautious, even more so than even her doctors.

Almost from the beginning, Jane began to spot and experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions. Initially the false labor was sporadic, though she was went to the emergency room on more than one occasion, and would finally be admitted to the hospital at the very beginning of January 1995. At that point she was also approximately 27/28 weeks. She was in full labor, but the hospital was able to hold her off until 30 weeks.

We had been told the normal case scenario (oxygen, tube feeding, etc., and the probable added medical complications that go with a child who is subjected to the usually necessary life-saving measures). Without a doubt we had both Jane and Abby in constant prayer and tried to prepare for the possibilities.

Her first APGAR’s were actually very good, but she weighed in at only 3 pounds 5 ounces. The first time I held her, just after her birth, I was struck by the fact that this little life, this beautiful (to me/us) little girl that we knew was a miracle, weighed less than a 5-lb bag of sugar.

She was immediately rushed to the NICU leaving my wife not knowing how Abby was doing. Jane was groggy and in and out of sleep for the first few hours after Abby was born, but when she woke up she not only wanted to know about her baby girl, but wanted to see her. (She had seen Abby for only a few seconds as they had placed Abby on Jane’s chest, but that was a foggy memory for her). Jane would not get to actually see Abby until the next day, and I was torn between being with Jane who could understand (at least some through post birth pain and being with my new baby girl for whom they did not want to be out of the isolette.

Abby did have some complications throughout her stay in NICU, initial problems swallowing, newborn jaundice, apnea, and the ever present WEIGHT GAIN/LOSS, 2 ounces gained, 4 ounces lost. While those numbers were different each day, the constant up and down was scary and nerve racking, as was the limited time being allowed to hold her.

However, at 36 weeks – 4 weeks before her due date, they performed the sleep study and with that we knew that she would be coming home soon, but we did not realize just how soon. We had been repeatedly told that her homecoming date would be at least her due date, so when I got to the hospital that day and was asked did we want to take her home, I naturally said YES!!! but still did not realize that the hospital was meaning we could take her home then. We had not brought anything to the hospital (car seat, clothes, etc) because we did not realize just how close she was to coming home. I had to go back to our apartment (about 20 miles from the hospital to get everything), and on the way back I picked Rosa up from daycare so that she could be there as well.

We were told that she was doing excellent, in fact, at that point the hospital had become a VERY high priced nursery and that as long as the issues she was experiencing stayed what they were, she should have no long term effects.

Abby experienced some initial delays – continued weight gain issues, as well as most of her early development followed the adjusted schedule not her actual schedule for events.

Abby does have some health issues now, but we have no way of knowing if the health issues directly or indirectly link to the preemie status, or if the issues are directly linked to genetic family issues. She has had respiratory issues, but so do many in our family; she has had anxiety issues, but so have some on both sides of our family; she has had some stomach issues, but again so have several in our family on both sides; she has ADD, but then I have ADHD, her big sister has ADHD and several other members on both sides have either ADD or ADHD.

Abby turned 18, on January 16, 2013. She will graduate high school having taken honors classes throughout her school career, starting with gifted and talented classes in elementary school and then actual honors classes, early high school credit classes in middle school. While she has times when she struggles, especially when she had the early anxiety attacks coupled with the respiratory issues, she will graduate this year with a 3.0+ (we believe it will be closer to 3.5 but one or two current classes this year have kicked her in the behind, plus she has gotten a touch of Senioritis.)

She has been under a 504 plan as a result of the various health issues, but that has not stopped her. Yes, she has had to have some modifications in school, primarily large crowds, PE, and extra allowance in getting to classes, but —

She is a DUKE TIP Scholar (Duke University), a Palmetto Scholar, was a member of a medical magnet program at her high school for almost three (3) years, played in Strings Orchestra for both her middle school and high school years, played in the after-school orchestra gigs program at both her middle school and her high school. She has taken more math and math/science courses than I ever dreamed of and has a few close friends.

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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