Matt, owner of Red Sparks is starting a new preemie segment on The Playpen entitled “The Preemie Adventure – Then and Now.” The series will feature a picture of premature infants at birth, along with a photo of the child at present day and a brief story from the parents describing their personal experiences with preterm birth.
We were devastated as they went over the statistics. My due date was still 121 days away. We had a 90% chance that the baby would die in the delivery room. If he beat the odds and survived, it would almost surely be with severe disabilities and a very poor quality of life. We were even offered medication to speed up the “inevitable”.
Thankfully, I lasted almost two weeks on bed-rest, which gave the baby some much needed time to develop further. At 24 weeks and 5 days, Kyle was born weighing 1 pound 6 ounces. Again we were warned that his chances of surviving, let alone leading a quality life, were not good.
We were devastated when we saw how small he was. And it was not a tiny, cute little baby kind of small. He obviously was very sick. Despite all the problems on the inside - things like his lungs and heart not being developed - we were struck by how different he looked on the outside. One of his eyes was still fused shut. His skin was transparent and covered with hair. Even his ear lobes had not yet developed cartilage and just hung there.
You will hear many parents of preemie’s state that their NICU stay was a rollercoaster ride and this description is so true.
During Kyle’s 119 days in Florida Hospital South’s NICU, while he had some good days, he also endured heart surgery, 69 days on life support/ventilator, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), anemia, bilateral hernias, Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD), Chronic Lung Disease, bilateral renal calculi (small kidney stones), jaundice, aspirations, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, 3 bouts with pneumonia, hyperglycemia, 11 blood transfusions, high blood pressure, numerous infections and Stage 3 Retinopathy of Prematurity requiring Eye Surgery.
Thanks to many answered prayers, today Kyle is a happy and healthy 18 month old (14 months adjusted age). He is the happiest baby and loves to be the center of attention. He is close to walking on his own and is adding new words to his vocabulary weekly.
If there is one remnant of Kyle’s extreme prematurity, it is the slow rate in which he has grown. Although it is finally starting to get better, since the day we left the hospital we have received comments on Kyle’s small size. An automatic question of strangers seems to be, “How old is your baby?” When he weighed 7 pounds and I would answer that he is six months old, people would look at me like I am crazy. Kyle is now almost 19 pounds, which considering his start in life, is amazing to me. Still, I feel like I always have to defend his small size and am looking forward to the day that he is actually on the growth chart!
We had a great appreciation for Kyle even before his prematurity because I had such a difficult time getting pregnant (he is an IVF baby), so even his conception was nothing short of miraculous to us. But everything now is even more precious to us and we take nothing for granted. We have learned some valuable lessons through this trial and we’ll never be the same. When I look at Kyle now, it is hard for me to imagine that he once weighed just 18 ounces. I am amazed by the accomplishments he has made, he truly is our miracle baby. "This is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes." Psalm 118:23
I think this series is an excellent idea! When Kyle was in the hospital, I would scour the Internet for information on preemies. While I was able to find a lot of medical based information, there was nothing like this "Now and Then" series. This may seem callous, but as parent looking at Kyle when he was just one pound, I wondered if he would ever look "normal".
Anyways, if anyone is interested, The Play Pen is looking for other preemie parents to submit stories.