HOPE STORIES OF FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN THOUGH THE NICU, WHO HAVE LIVED THROUGH THE HIGHS AND LOWS.
HOPE STORIES OF FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN THOUGH THE NICU, WHO HAVE LIVED THROUGH THE HIGHS AND LOWS.
The following are the birth stories told by families who have been through the NICU and are open to sharing; to offer hope for those currently going through the process. Scroll down, or jump to a story below:
PENELOPE AND LILLIAN
PENELOPE AND LILLIAN
Penelope and Lillian - 28 weeks, 6 days
Penelope and Lillian were due July 22nd ,2013, but they were born May 5th, 2013. They were almost 3 months early. This was not the first surprise we had faced with this pregnancy. We didn’t find out we were expecting twins until after our 20 week ultrasound! The good news at the time was that they had their own amniotic-sacs and placentas. Now that I was expecting twins we had to Switch doctors and were told that they were actually sharing the same placenta, but had their own sac, which meant that they were identical, but now had a high risk pregnancy.
We do not know many of the details, for example, how we did not know we were having twins for so long, or about the placentas or amnio-sacs. I do remember waking up one morning and telling Justin that I didn’t feel right, and that I had grown really big, really fast. Justin along with a lot of my friends and family, just chalked it up to being pregnant with twins. I knew it was different, and at 27 weeks I began to get very uncomfortable and was even waking up early in the morning with what felt like back labor. I was monitored and sent home on moderate bed rest, and ordered to drink as much water as possible.
The next week I went to my scheduled 28 week ultrasound. My technician did the ultrasound, and I was informed that I needed to head directly to the high-risk Perinatologist at Providence St. Vincent. This happened to be the one time I had Eleanor with a baby sitter. This marked the start of many miracles, both big and small, but all enormous to Justin and I. Justin and I met at the clinic and we went from bliss to complete fear in a matter of 2 hours. The Perinatologist (specialists for high-risk pregnancies) was concerned with not only our tiny unborn little girls, but they also informed me that I was in the beginning stages of labor. These doctors, although very serious and direct, comforted us the best way they knew how. I was exactly 28 weeks pregnant and I was admitted into the hospital. I was so scared, but was comforted deeply by my husband and the belief that God loved these babies more than we did.
Once I was admitted into the hospital, Anti-pardem nurses and doctors started the process of trying to keep our little girls in my womb for as long as possible. I was given Magnesium, which is a slow muscle relaxer that is supposed to stop contractions. Along with this came serious discomfort, and I was hooked up to heart and contraction monitors around the clock to make sure our babies were stable. My vitals were checked regularly, and I was only allowed a certain amount of fluid due to the magnesium. Magnesium is also supposed to help protect the babies’ brains and spare us enough time to get steroids in my body for possible lung immaturity. The doctors informed us that every day, every hour, and even every minute that the babies were in my womb was a milestone.
Our big milestones were 24 hours for the first round of steroids and then 48 hours for the second. Our daughters were also observed by ultrasound every day to monitor any concerns. The girls had shown signs of “twin to twin transfusion syndrome”, as well as some slight skin edema (swelling in the skin). We also learned that the reason I had gotten so big and so uncomfortable was due to Penelope having 3 times as much fluid in her sack than normal. These were all signs pointing to twin to twin transfusion. The first night I stayed at the hospital without my family was extremely hard. I woke up at 4 o'clock in the morning and began to pray and ask God to have favor on my family. He answered and very clearly spoke to me... I will never forget the words, "This is going to be long and hard, but I will be with you the entire way.” I held onto HIS words throughout the entire process.
Once we reached 48 hours my contractions had almost come to a stop. The doctors decided to take me off of the Magnesium to see how my body reacted. I was allowed my first shower in days and was also able to drink as much water as I wanted! That moment was like Heaven! I was only off the Magnesium for less than a day when my contractions started again. Something was different this time, and I knew deep in my heart that our girls were going to come. My labor started for the second time around 12pm Saturday afternoon. I was dialted to a 5 and it was clear that there was no stopping my body...the doctor was called to come back to the hospital for the delivery.
There was a moment before the delivery I will remember for the rest of my life. I was laying in the hospital bed holding Justin’s hand, as well as his sister Meghan's, along with his Mother Joanne...and we were all crying. Joanne prayed and asked for Jesus to protect me, my babies, and that HIS will would be done. That was the first time in my life that I was able to give everything to the Lord. It was a breaking point in my life that made me realize I had no control, and that ultimately everything is in God’s hands. This was just the start of Gods transformation in Justin and my life.
After trying to hold off labor for close to 15 hours, another round of Magnesium, countless prayers, tears, and so much discomfort, our little girls were born. Our girls were delivered by C-Section at 5:07 and 5:09AM Sunday, May 5th, 2013...Cinco De Mayo! I didn’t know what to expect because my first child was a beautiful natural birth. The one thing I was so fearful of was that my babies would not cry. God is so good! He knows our fears and nurtures our souls! Both Penelope and Lillian cried loudly and vigorously for their tiny weights of 2.2 and 2.3! I knew at that moment that Gods words were true, and that our little girls were going to be ok!
I was not allowed to see my babies right away. Justin followed a team of 10 doctors and nurses into the NICU. After I was stable I was wheeled back into my hospital room without my babies in my womb...or my arms. This was an extremely hard time for me. I was still numb from the chest down, I had no idea if my children were ok, and I didn’t have Justin by my side. Praise God after an hour I was wheeled in to meet my precious daughters for the first time! I was still numb and on a stretcher. My little girls were inside their new “womb” in the incubators. They each had a dozen cords attached to their tiny bodies, hooked up to 3 separate monitors, and a CPAP machine in place to help remind our little babies to breath. I was allowed to reach my hand inside the small opening of the incubator to hold their tiny hands for a couple of minutes. I was later able to hold my girls skin to skin, (which they refer to as “Kangarooing”). I looked forward to my kangaroo time each and every day I woke up. I will forever cherish that time that I had with them.
Our little girls were in the NICU for 48 long days plus the 6 days I was in Anti-Pardem. I never understood what it meant when people would say situations were for Gods glory until this past 2 months. Our little girls did everything they were supposed to do. We were told countless times how amazing they were, and how they continued to surprise the doctors and the nurses. Through this process I would drive to and from Beaverton every single day, as well as making sure my precious Eleanor was taken care of. I still cannot believe how strong and incredible my sweet Eleanor is. She was my rock throughout the 54 days. I had to bring my milk in without a baby, and continue to pump 8-10 times a day in order to prepare to nurse twins. I am so blessed and happy to say that both of my girls are exclusively fed on breast milk today!
I had many days where I would just cry for no reason. There were also times I would question why God chose this for our family. I know now it was because he loves us so much! We would not be who we are today had we not went through what we have gone through. We experienced someone breaking in to our house while I was in the Hospital by someone we knew. For us... it didn't matter. For the first time in our lives we could truly see life for what it was, and see the big picture. It was a speck compared to what we were going through. If anything, we felt sad for this person that they could take advantage of us while we were in this situation. The great thing is the good in people far outweighed the bad! We were, and are still stunned at the kindness and generosity we endured throughout this process.
Not only did we receive love from the incredible doctors and nurses we grew so close to, but from all of our family, friends and complete strangers! People put their lives on hold to make sure we were taken care of. We had meals provided for us for over a month, complete care for Eleanor, gifts, donations for my stolen products, cards, text messages, phone calls, visits, and most of all prayers! I was able to keep a prayer journal of all of the people that came to the hospital and prayed with and for our family! I believe that our girls were prayed for every minute that they were in the hospital. I even had a nurse stop me when I was leaving to pray for me because Eleanor was also in the hospital for food allergies. Our daughters were born to GLORIFY God! Who HE is, and to show us what really matters in life.
We checked into the hospital April 30th and the girls were discharged June 22nd, exactly 1 month before my due date. I prayed and begged God to send them home together, and again he was faithful! We have been home now for over a week and are taking in every moment with our 3 beautiful daughters!!! We had to deal with food apneas the first couple of days home, and this was almost enough to break me. Again, I prayed and begged God to help them grow out of these, and of course they did! Our life has been changed drastically in under a year! If you told me a year ago this is where we would be, I would have said that I could not have handled It. I know now that I can do all things through Christ, and that without him I am nothing. I was able to spend some very sweet and intimate time with HIM throughout this process that has changed me forever. Truly and deeply. My goals, dreams, and desires have all changed. I feel grateful and lucky that God chose this path for us. I live for him and for no one, or nothing else. I pray for everyone we were able to reach during this process and hope that our lives have glorified him!
FORD AND WYATT
FORD AND WYATT
Ford and Wyatt - 28 weeks, 6 days
Ford John and Wyatt James were born Saturday, February 9th, 2013, at 7:30 AM (Ford) and 7:33 AM (Wyatt).
This is a belated birthday announcement. I wanted to wait until Ford and Wyatt’s full term due date (April 28th) had passed, as their entrance into this world occurred almost — 3 months early. I am a changed person from this experience, as I was stripped of all control and left relying entirely on God’s grace.
I was getting ready for work the morning of January 17th when my water broke. Under normal conditions this would be an exciting event. However, in this case, I had yet to start my third trimester. I laid on the ground with a towel not knowing what to do. Matt proceeded to rush me to the hospital. My obstetrician doubted that my water could have broken; I had thus far experienced a pregnancy without warning signs. After reading the test results, she looked at me and said, “Well…your water did break.” I waited for her to keep talking, but she continued to look at me with an expression that implied that there was no way to fix the problem and that this was not a good problem to have.
I broke down at this point – no one wants to hear that their water has broken when they should have months of pregnancy in front of them. It turned out, Baby A’s (Ford’s) amniotic sack had ruptured also known as PPROM - occurring in less than 3% of pregnancies. The cause is factually unknown. Infection is thought to be a potential culprit; however, I tested negatively for this. At this point, no one could tell me why this had happened or what was going to happen.
The doctors prepared for the worst – potential and likely delivery to occur that day. I was put on magnesium, thought to slow contractions and help protect the babies’ brains, along with steroids, to accelerate the babies’ lung development. I was in complete shock at this point.
My doctor calculated exact gestation to be 25 weeks and 4 days. I faced the realization that — at any moment — I could potentially deliver babies that might not survive and if they did faced many risks associated with not being fully developed. Several doctors were on the scene that day including a neonatologist whom provided us with a printout of the frightening statistics for babies delivered at this maturity. I will never forget the words of a high-risk obstetrician indicating that if the babies were born that day they would each face a 50/50 chance of being entirely “OK”.
I remember lying there with heart rate monitors on my stomach. I felt entirely helpless. I have never felt so dependent on God – praying for his grace, compassion, love, and faithfulness.
As the day progressed, despite being entirely out of my hands, the first goal was to make it 12 hours, secondly 24 hours to allow for the steroids to maximize in effectiveness. 36 hours passed. 48 hours passed. 72 hours passed. Every hour and, in turn, day was a victory as it gave Ford and Wyatt more time to develop in the womb.
I remember being scared to move as Ford, the twin with the ruptured amniotic sac, was positioned low, towards my left hip. I hated to think that I could cause any pressure on him, as he had lost cushion of the sac.
Again, there was no way to control when I would go in to labor. We eventually made it to 26 weeks, followed by 27 weeks. I wouldn’t take the heart rate monitors off day or night. I wanted to make sure that we caught any sustained dip in heart rate if the babies were distressed. The twins were also monitored by ultrasound every few days and were subject to tests for movement, practice breathing, etc…
The hospital staff unanimously emphasized that 28 weeks would be a milestone as risks significantly dropped. At this point, I was so thankful for each day; however, when I thought of a goal (for example 28 weeks), I realized that despite reaching it, the babies would still be extremely premature. It was like having a goal to save $15 when what you want costs $20. Even if I made it this far…would it be enough?
Risks went down each day, but they were still there. Over analysis made Matt and I feel hopeless at times. We had to constantly remind ourselves that the situation was in God’s hands, and that these were His babies. It was only when we trusted Him that we felt peace.
It was on the 6th day after the 28th week, one day shy of 29 weeks, that I started to feel unusual cramping in the afternoon. This cramping developed into minor contractions. My OB decided to re-introduce magnesium and steroids in case I was going into labor. While things seemed to subside toward the evening, I fell asleep only to awake an hour later to escalating contractions. My doctor had me labor until there was a change in my cervix to rule out braxton hicks. Six hours later, it was safe to say that I was in fact laboring. I can’t describe the feeling of unwillingly going into labor. Something that should be so special felt so terrifying.
I was taken to the operating room for a C-Section. Three spinal taps later, I was numb (the needle broke off in my back on attempt two). I lost a lot of blood due to an internal, vertical incision on my uterus, coming close to needing a transfusion. All of this paled in comparison to the fear of whether or not my babies would be OK.
I remember hearing their first cries and looking at Matt. They were the smallest, sweetest cries I had ever heard. These babies that I had felt so close to over the last few weeks by simply watching their heart rates and feeling them move now became so real.
I wasn’t able to see them as they were rushed to the NICU for stabilization. Matt followed a team of about 10 doctors and nurses to watch. He will have to write his own story of the experience. I really admire the courage that he had.
I was wheeled into the NICU about an hour later to see my babies for the first time. The amount of equipment in place only allowed for me to see small portions of their faces as I looked through the glass incubator. Regardless, they were the most beautiful things that I had ever seen. I hated seeing them struggle to breathe despite the support. I hated the fact that I couldn’t have given them more time.
I had spent 3 1/2 weeks on bed rest prior to the delivery of Ford and Wyatt. Leaving the hospital without the babies, empty handed, was difficult. However, I didn’t leave with an empty heart. They spent about 2 months in the NICU. I was allowed to visit each day. For now, I will say that it was a long, long road. I will write more about this and potentially post pictures from the experience at a later time.
I now have these two gifts from God home with me. I thank Him for the health that they have so far. I love them so much, and it sickens me to think that there was even a chance that I could have lost them.
My heart goes out to anyone that has undergone a similar or more challenging experience. I want to thank everyone that reached out to Matt and I during this time. The support from family and friends has been beyond what I could have asked for. I cannot express how much I appreciate the prayers that were said, and I ask for continued prayer over the livelihood of these babies.
I hope that all of the mothers and mothers-to-be had a Happy Mother’s Day! I am so grateful to be a mom to Ford and Wyatt. I have learned that a life of trusting God is far superior to taking on burdens alone. A long, dark tunnel did close in on Matt and I at times, but when we opened our eyes the light was always there.
Baby Inspiration Takeaway: I was “presented with” two beautiful gifts and a lesson – true peace is found when we turn to God and trust Him.
Gavin - 32 weeks, 3 days
Our story started like any other day during my pregnancy. I was going in for a routine two week blood pressure/weight/easy peasy doctor's visit. My husband had been traveling and came into town late the night before, so I told him to skip the appointment. He says that "something told me I needed to be there" so we went in together. My regular OB was out on her honeymoon so I was meeting with a doctor I had never met. I hopped on the scale and had lost a pound. The nurse thought nothing of it since my regular weigh in's were on a different scale, or at least that's what she made me believe. The doctor came in and measured me to find I was measuring small. This same thing had just happened to my friend so I wasn't concerned, as her pregnancies were totally normal and she is just a small girl. However, they had us do an ultrasound as a precaution. Of course, the tech's are always stone-faced, so we had no idea what was going on or what the medical jargon she was typing out meant. I remember being sad because the baby (who's gender we still didn't know) was breach. Seems silly to me now knowing what I know.
The doctor came back into the room and said to us (I will never, ever forget this) "You are measuring small, the ultrasound shows you have very little amniotic fluid and your baby is small, like two pounds small, so we are checking you into Labor + Delivery and you are probably having a baby today." My mind went blank. Had my husband not been there I don't know what I would have done. I instantly began crying and he asked the important questions. I literally had not bought a single thing for the baby and couldn't have been more unprepared. Our minds were buzzing as we walked to Labor + Delivery and got checked in. What happens now? Will the baby be ok? How did this happen?
I was hooked up to a monitor and we watched the baby's heart rate go up and down as he rolled on his cord. Since he had no fluid to swim around in, he would lay on his cord, cut off his oxygen supply which would bring down his heart rate, at which point I would have to quickly change positions. I was pumped full of steroids to help the baby's lungs develop and the specialist had hoped I could stay on hospital bed rest for two more weeks. My husband toured the NICU and family came to keep us company. We prayed and prayed and prayed.
Well, very early the next morning (after zero sleep), the baby's heart rate went down long enough that I was rushed into an emergency C-section. An emergency C-section means that you are knocked out and your partner isn't allowed in the room. It was terrifying. Just as they were about to put me under, his heart rate came back and stayed stable. I was wheeled back in my room and we lasted a few more hours until another doctor decided it wasn't worth the risk of keeping him in. This doctor on call was a family friend, to our luck, and the mood in the room instantly changed once the decision was made. The nurses were placing bets on gender, my husband and I were excited and hopeful of a healthy baby and it was go-time.
Gavin was born at 6:05 PM and we were ecstatic he was a boy! He was rushed in to be looked at by a specialist. I didn't see Gav but my husband kept coming back with updates as they sewed me up. Three pounds on the dot, 15.25 inches and crying! So far, it was a best case scenario. As they wheeled me out I got to see Gavin for the first time and hold him with all of his tubes and wires. It was amazing and a moment that is ingrained in my mind. After that he was sent to the NICU where we spent the next month. Gavin had a CPAP for about 24 hours as a precaution and then began breathing on his own. We had no complications and Gavin just needed to get bigger and stronger before we could go home. The NICU nurses were absolute angels and became like family, many of whom we still keep in touch with today. One of them happened to be a good friend of mine from school, and I knew that she was taking extra good care of us. I remember one of the hardest times of it all was leaving the hospital for the first time when I was discharged. We decided it was smarter for us to get a good night sleep at home (not that pumping every three hours allows that) and then spend the day with our son. I cried and cried and cried. This wasn't how it was supposed to be.
I spent all day-every day at the NICU, taking his temp, changing diapers, pumping, kangaroo care and learning as much as I could from our amazing nurses. Our room rarely had less than the four person maximum and our friends and family were amazed at how tiny Gavin was when they came to visit. My parents brought dinner every night, so our habit became sitting down for dinner together and then rushing back for the last feeding of the evening to see how his weight had changed. The weigh-in's were so exciting. Some days were less than others, but he was continuously gaining. I look back at those tiny diapers we changed for him and can't believe it's the same boy.
Today, Gavin is coming up on his third birthday and thriving. He is incredibly active and loves anything related to trains, Legos, music or Curious George. He is inquisitive, shy around new people, and just plain hilarious. He is on the smaller side, but has a big personality. Our time in the NICU feels like a lifetime ago, or even a dream. The doctors say it was a fluke, and have no explanation for his early arrival. They are confident that with a few precautions we could avoid this if there is a second pregnancy, but to be honest it makes me incredibly nervous. There is nothing worse than having a sick child and the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. I thank the Lord each day for blessing us with our happy, healthy boy.