In September 2011, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. We were ecstatic! We always wanted to have children and we had been married for more than three years and decided it was the right time. We started going to see my doctor on a regular monthly basis. When we went for our 19-week ultrasound, we decided not to find out the sex of the baby. Being surprised seemed like a fun idea and nowadays, there aren't that many surprises in life.
At 23 weeks, I started to have severe back pain that was radiating to my belly. I told my husband something didn't feel right and we need to go the hospital. At the time, I was working at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and figured I might as well go to that hospital.
Upon arriving to the hospital, I was rushed to the Labor and Delivery Department. They called the doctor on-call. Since we were in the process of getting a new physician, I hadn't seen one out of that hospital yet. He examined me and did an ultrasound. I knew in my heart something just wasn't right. My husband and I waited until the doctor was done and we heard words no parent ever wants to hear: "You ruptured your water and most likely will have your baby today."
At 23 weeks, we were told the chances of survival were very small. That is something no parent or family should ever have to hear. We spoke with a neonatologist, who gave us a lot of information and statistics regarding the health of our baby and what would happen if our baby was born at 23 weeks. We were devastated.
We were told that if they could stop my contractions and if they could prevent me from getting any infections, I would stay in the hospital until I was ready to deliver. I was on strict bed rest in the hospital and would be until I delivered. And when I say strict, I mean I was able to get up only to go to the bathroom, otherwise I was laying flat on a bed. My husband never left my side. He slept on the chair those three-and-a-half weeks I was there. I was given two rounds of steroid injections to help our baby's lungs develop as well another medicine to help prevent brain bleeds.
By the grace of God, my new doctor along with the help of the maternal fetal medicine physicians, were able to prolong my pregnancy for three and a half weeks. At 26 weeks and six days, our son, Henry, was born at 2 pounds, 3 ounces, and 13 inches long. The doctors were so surprised he was only 26 weeks when he was born. He was looking around, trying to cry and breathing on his own. Most babies born at 26 weeks do not act this way. I was able to see our son briefly before he was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Henry was on a ventilator for only the first 12 hours of his life, which is amazing for a baby born at that gestation, we were told. After that, he had a nasal cannula to assist his breathing. Henry was in the NICU for 15 weeks. There, he was in an incubator to help regulate his temperature for the first two months and also was given a number of tests to make sure there weren't any complications that often come with being born that early. Henry had none of the complications they were looking for. We were blessed with such wonderful nurses and doctors at that hospital and they all helped Henry have a successful NICU stay. Henry went home on June 15, 2012, just 12 days after his original due date.
Throughout Henry's stay, we were given so much information and research that the March of Dimes has done to help us understand everything that happens in the NICU. We were able to understand certain tests Henry needed and why he needed them. We were able to understand why he was given certain medications and what purpose they served.
I also benefited a lot from the support groups the March of Dimes website has to offer. It was unnatural to me to have to leave my son at the hospital every night. I struggled with that every day as well as some of the experiences that happen in the NICU, which are hard to explain to people who haven't gone through that before. I felt like I wasn't alone when I spoke with and emailed parents who had gone through similar experiences.
We are proud to say that Henry is a happy, healthy 13-month-old. He enjoys playing with his toys, reading, playing with his dogs Daisy and Lily, and also loves Mickey Mouse. He is developmentally on track and doing exceptionally well. We are so blessed to have Henry in our lives and thank God every day.
We are so happy to be chosen as the Ambassador Family for the DuPage March for Babies! We are so excited to walk for our son, Henry, as well as all the babies around the United States who are born prematurely.
We truly believe that without the research and discoveries the March of Dimes has made and continues to make, Henry might not be here today. That is why we support the March of Dimes and believe everybody should. Every baby deserves a chance to be born healthy, and March of Dimes is working to see that dream become a reality.