Becoming a Parent Support Volunteer for the IMC NICU, I was asked to write a short summary to be posted in the Parent’s Lounge NICU to give them an opportunity to get to know the Parent Support Volunteers better. Here is my “short” story:
On August 22, 2008 our lives were changed forever by the early arrival of our precious baby girl, Kaylen. She was born at 34 weeks via c-section due to preeclampsia. The pregnancy started off as high risk due to an autoimmune condition that I have. I was monitored very closely throughout my whole pregnancy. We were overjoyed when we found out we were pregnant. I had been told previously that I might not ever be able have children, so Kaylen was an unexpected but most welcome surprise. About 11 weeks into my pregnancy, I awoke around 3 am to kiss my husband goodbye as he was getting ready for work, when I laid back into bed, I started hemorrhaging blood. We quickly went to the ER to discover that our baby was okay, but my placenta had separated about 50%. A most insensitive doctor sent me home with a prescription of Lortab and told me that I had a 50% chance of miscarrying my child. Praise God, my placenta healed completely. After 32 weeks of pregnancy, I began exhibiting my first signs of preeclampsia: I gained 10 lbs in two weeks, my blood pressure was up, and swelling of my body. I started NST (non-stress tests) twice a week to make sure my daughter was doing well. At my last NST, I had some protein in my urine. They called me back the next day to come pick up supplies 24 hour urine test. Unfortunately, by the time I went in, I was feeling horrible and was a crying mess. My perinatologist ran more urine and blood tests, examined me, and recommended that I be delivered that day. He called my OB and sent me over to a hospital. That hospital’s NICU was full so they sent me over to another hospital. I must add through all of this, I was complete denial about even the possibility of giving birth that night. I just couldn’t comprehend and was not prepared mentally to have a premature baby. My OB didn’t come to hospital until 8 pm that night (which also led me to think that I wouldn’t be delivered that day) but at 8:56 pm, my daughter was born to us at via an emergency c-section. I remember watching from the table as they cleaned her off and the NICU nurse letting me give her lots of kisses before she was rushed off to the NICU. Little did I know at that time I wouldn’t be able to even see her, let alone hold her, until 3 days later. It was pure heaven when I got to hold my baby girl for the first time. Luckily, her complications were few. She was severely jaundice due to our ABO blood incompatibility, but her bilirubin stabilized, she learned to eat quickly, and she was home after 10 days in the NICU.
Fast forward, 19 months later, I was pregnant again with my second child, Ryan. I was 33 weeks along in my pregnancy when my water broke. Not even two months before, I had made a major move from Las Vegas to the Salt Lake area due to a job offer. I had given my two weeks’ notice to my job in Las Vegas and headed up to Salt Lake, pregnant, with no family in the area, and pretty much being a single mom to my 17 month old toddler while my husband took care of our affairs back in Las Vegas. Again, this was a high risk pregnancy due to my autoimmune condition. I really didn’t have any issues with this pregnancy. In the back of my mind, I did fear getting preeclampsia again, but I never exhibited any sign of preeclampsia. Because of my issues with my first pregnancy, I continued with the NSTs twice a week until my water broke unexpectedly. I was scared and nervous. I knew what it meant to have my water break at 33 weeks and I knew I was in for another NICU stay. I was able to hold off labor for another 3 days giving the chance for the steroid shots to help improve Ryan’s lung function (and giving my husband time to drive here from Las Vegas). Ryan was born to us at 11:00 am on March 30, 2010 via c-section. He was also severely jaundiced. He was on the CPAP for just one day and on oxygen for 3 days. After about 10 days in the NICU, Ryan came down with an infection in his bowels (NEC – which is rare for someone born after 33 weeks) that was caught early enough that he only had to endure seven days of no eating, a PICC line, and antibiotics before he was better again. He quickly learned how to eat and nurse well after that episode, so in another week, after 29 days in the NICU, he was finally released.
Currently, Kaylen is a healthy, happy, constantly talking 3 ½ year old. Ryan is a healthy, active twenty-two month old who loves dinosaurs and spends a lot of his day “roaring” with his toys. We discovered that Kaylen has food allergies to eggs and dairy and Ryan is allergic to nuts and is sensitive to milk. He was diagnosed with asthma but treated with daily medication, he is does great.
I very blessed and lucky to have had Ryan at IMC with the Common Bonds program. We literally had no family here and I found strength from the volunteers from Common Bonds in dealing with Ryan’s NICU stay. That is why I have a heart to serve other NICU families through the Common Bonds program to offer hope and encouragement to other families with an understanding heart and empathy for their situation.