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Challenge: NICU Parenting

The quest for motherhood

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Our journey to having a child took many different turns. First, I was 38 when I got married and my husband was a father to twin boys. We started trying right away to get pregnant and didn't have success. Finally in June of 2003, I got pregnant with twins! Unfortunately, we lost them at 15 weeks. We then went on to lose 2 more singles and then triplets in January of 2007. By then I was 45 and reaching the end of the opportunity to conceive. In May of 2007 I had 3 embryos implanted and we found out we were pregnant. It wasn't until end of July that we found out only one of the embryos survived. We always said we wanted twin girls since we had the twin boys. The doctor who had cried with us when we lost our babies made the announcement "I was a typical pregnant woman." Even my husband said I had that pregnancy glow. On August 16th, I was rear ended in a car accident. It didn't seem that much of a deal since I was more upset about my car getting hit. I walked to the fire station and asked them to take my blood pressure since I was 16 weeks pregnant. They had an ambulance called before I finished talking and I ended up in the emergency room with a collar to protect my neck. Well, we still had a heartbeat and the placenta had come away from the wall slightly. Two weeks later we saw a maternal fetal specialist and found out we were having a son! And that I had to go on bed rest since my cervix was thinning. Two weeks after that I had a cerclage and two weeks after that I ended up hospitalized. The first 15 days on bed pan and inverted. I spent 6 weeks in the hospital and hoped to get Spencer to 32 weeks. On Friday, November 9th, my water broke. The next morning the stitch was removed and I was moved to the LDR wing for constant monitoring. Tuesday morning, November 13th, I spiked a fever and was told that they were going to induce and bring Spencer into the world at 28 weeks. At 1:37 weighing 2 pounds 8 ounces and 14" long he was here and I was rushed into surgery since I was losing blood. Due to the length of time I was in surgery (Barry was told 15 min, it was over an hour) he was thinking he might have to plan my funeral. He had gone up to see Spencer as I was in recovery. It wasn't until the next day that I was able to see Spencer. That began our 7 1/2 month odyssey visiting the NICU every day and calling every night. I wasn't able to hold him until December. He had heart surgery at 3 weeks old to close his PDA. Multiple attempts to get him breathing on his own or with a c-pap to no avail. In February he again had surgery to repair a double hernia and be circumcised. In early March the Drs concluded that Spencer needed to be trached. He was burning so many calories breathing that he wasn't gaining any weight. By putting in the trach, the ventilator would do all the work of his breathing so he could gain weight. By mid-May Spencer was air lifted to UM Children's Hospital as the first step to him coming home. While there we learned how to care for the trach, put his feeding tube in his nose and do maintenance on the vent. On June 23rd Barry and I loaded up Spencer and all his stuff and headed home. He weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces. That night after all the nurses went home we had our first test, perform CPR on our son, his first night at home. He stopped breathing and went limp, my left brain went into action as I did CPR and bagged him to bring him back to life while my husband was on the phone with 911. After a few scary minutes Spencer smiled up at me as if nothing happened. This began our journey with home health nurses. We had nurses in our home every day for 2 years. During that time we had a few moments that caused us concern, but Spencer always came through like the fighter he is. On May 4, 2010, at our insistence, Spencer was the one that pulled his trach out for the last time. I could finally let him get dirty in the yard and hose him off! We put him in a private school at 3 1/2 and he is now in 4th grade, an all A student and the light of our lives. I am a mother. We have remained close to his "girlfriends" and they are able to follow his life on his Facebook page. Without them, I wouldn't have my son. They are true lights in the NICU world. Because of everything we went through and the losses we suffered before Spencer, I formed a group called Angel Gowns of Michigan. We take donated wedding dresses and turn them into burial gowns for the babies that die too soon. Thank you for letting me tell my story.

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