In honor of those babies, in memory of my son Graham and in honor of my son Will, I'm sharing my story here.
I went to work on May 18, 2010 just like on any other day. I was six months pregnant with twin boys (they were spontaneous) and had been seeing a maternal-fetal specialist because there was a growing discrepancy in the size of their amniotic sacs, plus Graham wasn't growing as quickly as he should. We never found out a reason for this; twin-to-twin transfusion was ruled out. There wasn't anything the doctors could do other than monitor them closely.
At my weekly specialist appointment at noon that day, I had an ultrasound as usual. I figured JB and I would go out to lunch afterward as we always did. Instead, when it was over, the specialist sat us down and told us that the blood flow to the brain of our larger baby (this was Will) was slowing down. He would be in trouble if he wasn't delivered soon. JB and I were speechless as the specialist told us we needed to go to the hospital right then and get prepared for delivery that afternoon. I was at 28 weeks and four days.
JB and I were naive. We'd always known the NICU was a possibility with twins, but we assumed we'd be there a few weeks at most, easy-peasy, and the boys would go home. Anything worse was just the kind of thing that happened to other people.
I had nothing but the clothes on my back and my purse when we checked in at the hospital. Our families rushed up there, and luckily they brought cameras!
|Mr. Will and his nurse, the day after he was born|
In the incubator a few feet away, Will was fighting his own battles. He, too, had trouble breathing and was on oxygen for weeks. He had a heart murmur that sounded, according to the pediatric cardiologist, like a washing machine. He had a Level 4 brain hemmorhage (the highest possible on a scale of 1 to 4) on the right side of his brain which had occurred sometime in utero and that we were told could cause anything from mild ADHD to severe developmental delays. His eyes had fragile vessels that had to be checked every few days to make sure they hadn't burst. To top it all off, about two weeks after he was born he contracted a staph infection - a serious problem for a preemie. Because of all the needle sticks he required (thanks to increased medication to fight the staph) the nurses began running out of places to stick him and he underwent surgery to insert a PICC line in his chest that remained for the duration of his NICU stay.
I say all of this not to complain or to list grievances, but to illustrate the long, hard road faced by preemies. We met and befriended parents whose babies faced every conceivable hurdle, from perforated bowels to brain swelling.
Will spent 71 days in the NICU before he was allowed to come home. Since then, he's had visits with the cardiologist, neurologist, orthopedic pediatrician, optometrist and pulmonologist, in addition to his regular pediatrician. Through it all, he's been strong-willed and tenacious. He's passed all of his appointments so far with flying colors. He's been developing normally for his adjusted age.
|Will in October, age 5 months|