Her name is Evelyn.
She is why we care.
I was 38 years old when we found out we were pregnant after almost 2 years of trying. To complicate matters I was also diabetic. I didn’t fully comprehend the term “high-risk.” Like most women, I expected everything to go smoothly. I did everything my doctor asked. I ate the right foods, exercised every day and tested my blood sugar after each meal.
My husband went to every appointment and ultrasound, and Evelyn was measuring the correct size, and they were pleased with my minimal weight gain. However, by the middle of my second trimester, I couldn’t wear my wedding rings anymore. My blood sugar started getting more difficult to control, and my blood pressure was high from time to time. I remember one appointment when I complained that I couldn’t keep my readings down, my doctor told me I should try and “enjoy my pregnancy as much as possible.” She mentioned that her goal was to get me to 36 weeks. She had me begin to track how long it took Evelyn to kick 10 times. At the time, it didn’t hit me that something was wrong.
One Friday night when I was “counting my kicks” she seemed a little slower than usual, and the kicks weren’t as strong. My husband seemed a little worried at the time, but I told him to go on to the golf tournament he was playing in the next day several hours away. He would only be gone for one night, and I was only in my 27th week at that point.
Saturday night while I was “counting my kicks” I couldn’t feel Evelyn at all. I ate spicy food for dinner, thinking that would do the trick. But, when I still didn’t feel her I took my blood pressure out of curiosity. It was 190/96. By the time I got to the hospital it had reached 210/110. They immediately admitted me, and started me on a magnesium drip and steroid shots for her lungs. My husband came back that night and stayed with me at the hospital.
Once my parents arrived the next morning, the doctors started making plans to keep me in the hospital and on bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy. Unfortunately, my blood pressure continued to climb and they schedule an immediate C-section. I was exactly 28 weeks.
Evelyn was born at 6:47pm on March 29, 2015. She weighed 1 lbs. and 8 oz., and was 13 inches. And she was a fighter! She was never intubated but received oxygen and was put under a lamp for her bilirubin levels (Jaundice). I was petrified. I didn’t get to hold her for several days and was only able to touch her through holes in the isolette. I remember being confused as nurses and staff would congratulate me and my husband. This didn’t feel like a celebration. We were scared and confused, and with every passing hour we learned more and more about the potential complications. Things like brain bleeds, NEC, Bradycardia… And, the sounds of alarms everywhere.
The first few days were difficult, but Evelyn was gaining a little weight and doing well. It wasn’t until the week after I’d been discharged that we were told she was anemic and need a blood transfusion. Then came the problems with her feedings. They stopped her feedings completely and started her on antibiotics hoping that she wouldn’t develop and infection in her intestines (NEC). It worked and she was on the mend.
Throughout the 67 days she was in the Galisano Children’s Hospital in Ft. Myers, FL, it was like a roller coaster ride. But, we were blessed to be in one of the few level 4 NICUs in the state. While we had a few setbacks, and her size continued to be an issue, she was strong and feisty! She passed her hearing tests, she passed her scans for brain bleeds, and she passed all of her eye exams. At that point she was just there to grow and learn to take her oral feedings. She ended up coming home on June 5, a few weeks before her actual due date. She was 3 lbs and 14 oz.
Having Evelyn home was the most amazing and frightening thing we could have imagined. And even though she was doing well, there were so many doctors and specialists to meet with. She had re-flux, and is still on medication for that. But at the end of the day she is an amazing miracle. She loves to swim, and dance. She likes music and has a wonderful sense of humor. Frozen is her favorite movie and she is talking up a storm.
Looking back is still hard, and brings tears to my eyes. And, once and a while, we still fear what delay or complication may be around the next corner. But, every day she surprises us with what she can do and how smart she is. We are so blessed.
Every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide, and 1 million will die before their first birthday. Your gift helps the March of Dimes fund research, education, advocacy and programs that help more moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.
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