Every year, 20 million babies are born too soon, too small and very sick ― half a million of them in the United States. November 17 is when we fight.
I am a big advocate of the March of Dimes and premature birth awareness. I had two preemies myself; one born at 32 weeks and one a 27 weeks. Today I am telling my youngest son Trent’s story.
After my first preemie and very complicated pregnancy the Dr. told me I only had a 10% chance of having the same complications the second time around. The complications I had with my first pregnancy were high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. So, when my older son Ethan was 20 months old I became pregnant. I was nervous as any pregnant woman is but I thought things would be better since that is what the Dr. had told me. The first 20 weeks of my pregnancy were uneventful except for the occasional protein in my urine but I was taking blood pressure meds to control my blood pressure. At 21 weeks they started noticing that my blood pressure was getting higher even with the medication. At that time I started seeing a perinatologist (high risk pregnancy Dr.) who started giving me weekly ultrasounds. From 21 weeks through the 24th week things were okay. Not perfect but tolerable. At 25 weeks she started noticing that the baby was not growing and thriving like he should. So I was admitted to the hospital on very strict bedrest. I spent 11 days in the hospital and then was allowed to go home. At that time I was having ultrasounds every Monday and Thursday. At 27 weeks on a Monday I went for my regular ultrasound. It was ok but my baby still wasn’t thriving and was measuring small for gestation. They sent me home on bedrest and I was to come back on Thursday for another ultrasound. I went back on Thursday and it was determined that my son’s condition was deteriorating and that I needed to deliver with 24 hours. I was scared.to.death! My Dr. was scheduled to leave for a two week vacation that next day so I wouldn’t have her by my side.
At 27 weeks 5 days gestation Trenton was born by emergency c-section. He weighed 1 pound and 11 ounces and was 12 inches long. His apgar score was a 1 and he couldn’t breathe on his own. Here is a picture of him on the day that he was born.
Trenton spent 86 long days in the NICU. I couldn’t hold him for the first several weeks because he was just too fragile. The hospital was 40 minutes away from my house and I had a two year old at home. My husband had to work and I needed help so my mother (God love her) took family medical leave from her job to come and take care of my older son so I could be at the hospital with Trent. Those three months were the longest three months of my entire life. I missed out on that special time with my older son Ethan and I still couldn’t bring my precious baby home. There were many touch and go situations while Trent was in the NICU. He had two blood transfusions and many very scary situations. He came home the day after his due date on June 13, 2004. He weighed just over 5 lbs. when he came home.
They sent me home with a huge oxygen tank and he had to have oxygen for over a month at home. It was scary. I felt like I had let him down as a mother. I felt like my body had let me and him both down. I fell into a depression that thankfully with a lot of prayer I was able to come out of. Trenton had to have several therapists in every week to help with his growth and development. This went on until he was 18 months old. He also had eye surgery to correct some muscle development problems but other than that there have been no major hospitalizations since.
Now at five years old Trent is a healthy, happy little boy. The only effects from the prematurity that he has is that he wears glasses and he is behind in his learning. He is a sweet heart and brings joy to my life every single day. I am so thankful to God that he is here with me and healthy.
I would like to say a special thank you to the doctors and nurses at Deaconess Women’s Hospital for the care and compassion that they showed to my family during this diffficult time. You are angels!