When you bid on items at our silent auction to support the March of Dimes on April 11, think of tiny Harry.
Born weighing two pounds, four ounces, he spent 92 days surviving blood transfusions, CPAP machines and tests galore before catching up to life’s normal starting line. Today he’s a busy four-year-old; even has a little sister to torment — a dream come true for parents Jessica S. and Cory H., thanks to our NICU. Jessica now volunteers there. Here’s her touching story:
By Jessica S., NICU volunteer
We began our family journey in 2013 – I finally got pregnant a year and a half later! Because it had taken so long, I told people the joyous news right away … but unfortunately, I had a miscarriage. I was devastated. I had waited and tried to get pregnant for so long.
Despite that heartache, starting a family was still important. I was in my 30s, so we needed to start again soon. I got pregnant again, and for the first 26 weeks, I followed medical advice, refrained from caffeine, ate organic, slept on my left side, etc. But, at 26 weeks and one day, my water broke with no warning. I went into shock, unable to comprehend what was happening, and by the time we got to the hospital, I was hysterical.
I was woefully uninformed about the NICU, assuming that our son Harry was either dead or going to die. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing another child. The nurses reassured me that it was possible for a 26-weeker to survive. I was hospitalized on bed rest, planning to make it to 34 weeks.
Spoiler alert! I didn’t make it.
Six days later (at 27 weeks) Harry came roaring into this world at 2 pounds, 4.5 ounces and 14.7 inches long. I held him briefly and could only say “He’s so little. He’s so little.” He was whisked off to the NICU where his three-month trip included an infection, blood transfusions, medical tests galore, and many months of CPAP and oxygen. There were good days, bad days, and days I wasn’t sure he would make it. But on the 92nd day -- on his official due date of all dates -- Harry came home.
Despite that drama, we still wanted to grow our family. So we got pregnant again, and progesterone shots, ultrasounds, and cervical length checks were ordered. With the help of my amazing OB Dr. Morgan and her staff, a team of perinatologists at Salem Health and fantastic doulas, our daughter Felicity was born at 37 weeks on the total eclipse day, of all days. (If she couldn’t be early, she had to top her brother’s entry into the world somehow!)
The first words I spoke when I held that six-pound 14-ounce girl was “She’s so big! She’s so big!” Unlike her brother, she spent a mere three days in the NICU.
Harry is now a happy, healthy, and ornery 4-year-old and Felicity is a happy, healthy, roly-poly 19-month old who is all smiles.
We learned a lot in the NICU. We learned to change tiny diapers, read monitors, take temperatures, and speak medical jargon. We read and sang to Harry, we held him, we helped care for him, and we loved him. We learned how to be parents behind those locked doors on the third floor where no one should have to go.
We are forever grateful to the Salem Hospital’s NICU for their excellent care and to March of Dimes for their prematurity and birth defect research.
Thank you to the many nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, neonatologists, and Dr. Cohen who helped us bring home Harry and Felicity.