In July 2011 we were over the moon excited to learn we were expecting twins! But six months later, I began to have complications with my pregnancy. I didn’t feel right. In January 2012, at 22 weeks, our baby girl’s water sack broke and her cord prolapsed. Luckily, at the time, we didn’t have any complications with her brother.
My doctor wanted to keep me pregnant with BOTH babies for as long as possible, so I was admitted to the hospital. Five days later it was clear that my doctors and nurses couldn’t stop my labor. I didn’t know what to expect.
I was told our daughter, Emma Kate, wouldn’t survive. After she was born, we held her for 15 minutes before she passed away.
I was then put on magnesium to stop my labor and contractions. I thought I’d be in the hospital for 10 more weeks, but then four days later, my son’s water broke at 24 weeks. We knew he was tiny, but he wasn’t compromised.
I underwent a very quick, 45-minute emergency C-section. Trenton was 1 lb. 3 oz. and 11 inches long when he was born. We were told he would not be able to make sound, but he made the tiniest little cry. We thought, “Wow! We have a fighting chance. He has a fighting spirit!” This was a huge sign of life that he showed early on.
Our 137 day NICU Journey began when Trenton was admitted to the NICU and put on a ventilator. He had a great start, after nearly three weeks there he contracted a blood infection. He then had his first surgery. We felt like we were taking one step forward and 10 steps back. There was always a surgeon or doctor coming in every day to see if surgery was needed, or what condition should be evaluated. The four primary nurses who cared for him are still considered part of our family. They are some of the most important people in our lives.
At one point, one of the nurses said I didn’t have to go through this alone. I saw signs in the NICU about Hand to Hold, but didn’t reach out and get a mentor. I was hyper-focused on every single day. I couldn’t talk about what we were going through because it was too emotional.
But, before we left the NICU, I attended a Mother’s Day NICU Celebration held by Hand to Hold in our hospital NICU. It felt unnatural to celebrate Mother’s Day while our child was still in the NICU.
That day, Hand to Hold made me feel special and also realize I have such an important role as Trenton’s mom, even while Trenton was in the hospital and I couldn’t care for him in a traditional way. And although I had a lot of support at home and from friends, this event connected me to other moms who were going through the same experience. The Mother’s Day event gave us an opportunity to relax, away from a stressful environment, and just talk mom to mom.
Hand to Hold later helped me find a pediatrician for Trenton and gave me additional peer-to-peer support which let me know that I was not alone on this journey.
At four and a half months, Trenton had severe reflux and was still on oxygen. He came home with oxygen, a monitor, and four medications. We watched over him 24/7 – scared the oxygen would turn off and traumatized that something would happen. Keeping up with his doctors appointments was a full-time job. We didn’t really take him out of the house for 15 months because we didn’t want him to get sick.
Trenton had six surgeries in his first 18 months. He still goes to speech and occupational therapy, but it really is so amazing that he is doing well now. He’s now two and half years old and in a mainstream pre-school classroom. He is smart. To see him now is simply amazing.
His brother Spenser was born full term and is now eight months old.
When Trenton was in the NICU, I kept waiting to have a baby shower. I wanted to be past all of the major hurdles. My parent’s friends made sure Trenton was part of my baby shower by blowing up pictures of him and hanging them on the walls. The baby shower gave me a sense of normalcy when everything else was not normal.
People shouldn’t have to go through NICU Life. I didn’t realize how unnatural it is until Spencer was born.
I’m glad Hand to Hold was there for me during this time. Knowing mothers who had previously walked in my shoes and were now on the other side was a tremendous blessing and life saver. To know I always had someone available to listen that really understood our circumstances really helped me through our first year.
Today I look back and think that our story is one to share with others – there are 24-weekers in the world that make it and are living full lives!!