November is National Prematurity Awareness Month and we want to highlight some incredible women who have shared their stories of strength, love, and courage as they have overcome obstacles and trials. This week, meet Katie and her darling twin boys, Jack and Ben.
Katie shared, “Jack and Ben are mono-di twins. Mono-di is short for monochorionic, (one placenta) diamniotic (two amniotic sacs). There are lots of risks involved with mono-di pregnancies and they’re monitored closely by perinatologists. Pretty early on, we learned Jack’s share of the placenta was smaller than Ben’s, and he also had a marginal cord insertion, meaning his umbilical cord was attached to the side of the placenta, rather than the center of his share. Both of these things were monitored closely, and Jack was diagnosed with Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction (sIUGR).”
“At 19 weeks, the doctor told us we really needed to make it to 24 weeks and 500 grams so that there was a chance for Jack to survive if they needed to be delivered due to reverse flow. Weeks 19 through 24 were stressful knowing there was a chance of cord flow reversing and knowing that Jack was not yet big enough to survive outside. At my checkup at 24 weeks + 4 days, the doctor noted reverse flow, and Jack was finally measuring 501g.”
“The difference in survival and health in 24 week babies and 25 week babies is dramatically different. We knew we really really needed to get to 25 weeks at the very least, though we were thankful to have made it to viability at all. That day felt heavy.”
“Each morning, I had an ultrasound that determined the fate of our day — deliver, or get one more day. We prayed hard each morning for another day for the boys to grow and develop.”
At 25 weeks Jack and Ben were born. Katie shared her experience with her husband Justin, and said:
“Justin came and sat next to me and held my hand. (He did not pass out, for the record.) I felt some pressure and tugging and then heard a tiny, tiny squeak. It sounded like a mouse. My sweet Baby A, Jack, was born at 2:15 PM. They went in for Baby B and he was all the way up in my ribs. The pressure and pulling they did to get him out is truly indescribable. FINALLY, after the longest three minutes ever, sweet and stubborn Baby B, Ben, was born at 2:18 PM.
The incredible NICU team intubated and assessed the boys and Justin was able to take pictures and follow them straight in the NICU as soon as they were stable. I got stitched up and rolled to recovery and Justin re-joined me shortly after. As I laid in recovery, I remember feeling numb- physically but also emotionally. Eventually, I told Justin I was ready to see pictures of the boys. They were the tiniest babies I had ever seen.
My babies. My fighters. ALIVE. Thank you, Jesus.”
“There is nothing quite like being a micropreemie mama! I would never wish a NICU stay on anyone, but watching the Lord heal my boys day-by-day, little-by-little, was truly humbling. We feel as if we have had front-row seats to a miracle!“
“For preemies, the road home is a long one, and the progress is not always linear. They say the journey is like a rollercoaster, and it is, except you probably aren't even buckled in when the ride starts! When my boys turned one, it was so bittersweet. Hitting the one year mark brought forth such deep gratitude. The flip side of the milestone? Grief. Anxiety. When the boys were born, people would say "I don't know how you're doing this." We didn't have a choice. We were in survival mode. Survival was the only option."
“Did you know that up to 70% of NICU moms battle depression and PTSD? I've put quite a bit of pressure on myself to close our NICU chapter. Truthfully, I feel guilty for "still" needing to process, but I'm learning to be gracious with myself and fight for my own mental health. If there's one thing I'd like others to know, it's this: NICU families are SO grateful they survived the NICU. We wish we could "just move on" and leave things in the past. But most of us are just starting to come to grips with what we survived, even a full year or two out. You can leave the NICU but the NICU never leaves you.”
"I never imagined the Lord could be so near. I never imagined loving two tiny humans so incredibly much. I never imagined the feeding journey and the gift of life-giving milk. I never imagined the angels in scrubs who were battling in the trenches long before I learned to. I never imagined the pure JOY of watching my boys hit milestones. I never imagined how much strength comes bursting through the ashes of weakness. I never imagined the blessing of this burden. I am a NICU mama."