Finding out we were expecting our second baby was one of the greatest things we could ever imagine. But from the start, I felt like there was something different about this pregnancy. I had a few complications with our son Landon, but nothing extreme. I had every reason to believe this pregnancy would be the same, but for some reason I didn’t believe it. When I was 12 weeks pregnant, everything changed. I started spotting for the first time and had to go on bed rest and reduce activity. When I was 22 weeks pregnant, we thought all of that was behind us, and we were excited to find out we were adding a girl to our family. Days later, everything changed; due to an infection, I started to have contractions and was on bed rest and in and out of the doctor’s office. It was decided at 24 weeks, we were going to try a cerclage.
Unfortunately, 24 hours after the cerclage, my water broke. I was on hospital bed rest for 12 days until Avery decided it was time to make an appearance; I was only 25 weeks and 6 days. To say we were terrified is putting it mildly. She was born on Aug. 16, 2013, at 1 pound 12 ounces. Avery had her ups and downs during her 74 days in the NICU but always continued to beat the odds, especially when she came home 4 weeks before her due date.
Life after the NICU still wasn’t easy. Avery had two more hospital trips with stays in pediatrics due to bronchiolitis; she was on oxygen for 10 months, worked with PT, OT and still goes to speech therapy. The March of Dimes was pivotal in us bringing her home, due to Surfactant, a treatment given to help lung development for preemie babies; their support of NICU Development; and countless other advancements. Now at 3 years old, she wears glasses and just had corrective eye surgery throughout all of this, though she has been our rock star! She has taught us patience, strength and how to accept the unknown.
My name is Jenny. I was 29 ½ weeks along when I started having stomach pains late one night that sent me to the hospital. My doctor determined we had to deliver our baby via c-section. Peter was born weighing 3 lbs, 5 oz. He was in the NICU for the next 53 days. He underwent many tests to determine his health. Without the March of Dimes and their funding for research on these important tests, we would have never learned of Peter’s diagnosis of Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)—a brain injury that shows no symptoms in infants. Babies with PVL are at risk for motor disorders, delayed mental development, coordination problems, and vision and hearing impairments. Today, Peter is doing amazing as he continues with weekly physical, occupational and speech therapy appointments. I am inspired daily at the patience and tolerance that he displays.
Our family has been greatly impacted by the March of Dimes mission to prevent premature birth, infant mortality and most importantly for us, birth defects. Our family knows firsthand the challenges associated with prematurity. It is important to find out why premature birth happens and what can be done to prevent it. That’s why we help raise money and participate in March for Babies. We’re proud to be helping the March of Dimes by walking together for stronger, healthier babies.
On June 1, 2011 our lives were changed forever. Our identical twin boys entered this world at just 23 weeks gestation, due to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). Cohen Lou came into this world fighting. That day we said goodbye to him as he earned his angel wings. His brother, Cooper Lee, weighing just 14.8 ounces fought for every breath. He underwent four surgeries and countless other medical interventions. After 134 days in the St. Elizabeth NICU in Lincoln, Nebraska, he was able to come home.
We could have never imagined how our boys would start their lives and that prematurity would so quickly turn our world upside down. Fortunately, thanks to the endless research from March of Dimes, our boys were given the chance at life.
Cole and James’ Story
James and Cole Younger were welcomed into the world on October 9th, 2010, at 25 weeks, 5 days or nearly 26 weeks.Their mom, Heather, arrived at the hospital on October 8th with a little blood and fluid, and was monitored closely. The doctors thought they could keep her stable in the hospital for the next eight weeks or so until she could deliver. She was given some medications to help her and the babies should they come early. Then, 30 hours later, the amniotic sack decided to break and Mom was rushed into emergency surgery.James arrived at 2:08 p.m. and gave a little squeak as they rushed him to the team of doctors and nurses who would check out all his vitals. Cole was in prime form already, as he became a little shy, and decided to turn sideways as the doctors went to get him out. However, with a little coaxing, he arrived at 2:11 p.m. and was rushed to his own team of caregivers.Because they were born at such a young age, James and Cole found life on the outside to be challenging. They were very sensitive to light, sound, touch, and smell. They were on ventilators to help them breathe and were monitored closely. They spent 96 days in the Bryan LGH NICU and in Omaha at Children’s before heading home.Now toddlers, the boys are doing amazingly well as today they continue with physical and occupational therapy, according to their parents Erik and Heather. They are laughing at each other, Cole is walking around and loving it, and James is getting more and more active but still loves to snuggle. “The advances in neonatal care that brought our boys to the health they enjoy today are largely due to the work of the March of Dimes.”
We were thrilled to learn in 2005 that we were finally successful in starting a family. That excitement turned into serious concern in only a few months. At 25 weeks gestation, we found ourselves in an ambulance on the way to the hospital with cold fear being the only thing keeping us moving.Stacy was dilated and the baby was showing little patience to stay put. We did not even know if our baby was a boy or girl. I learned I can run for 72 hours on nothing but terror and caffeine. Stacy was admitted to Methodist Hospital and placed on inclined bed rest so gravity could help keep the baby in. The doctors performed a cervical cerclage to forestall the birth. The surgery was successful and we thought the worst was over. The doctors discussed discharging Stacy since things were going well.Then Stacy’s water broke, causing more sleepless nights, worry, and fear. They did everything they could to stop labor, but were only able to delay things a week before contractions started. There was just no stopping the baby. On September 3, 2005, Kryton Anthony Bechtel was born at 27 weeks – weighing only 2 pounds 8 ounces. We were told to prepare for anything.While Kryton was in the NICU at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, both Stacy and I started working 10 hour days. This allowed us to spend as many full days with him as possible enjoying kangaroo holds, breathing him in, and trying to let him know he wasn’t alone. Kryton spent 68 days in the NICU and developed a nasty infection called Klebsiella, which is a bacteria usually found in the stomach or digestive system. They found it in Kryton’s blood, which meant he had to undergo a spinal tap to determine if it had spread to his brain. He had PICC lines, C-paps, Biliruben lights, and nasal canulas, yet he took everything in stride and left the NICU after only 10 weeks – three weeks before his original due date.How is it possible that Kryton survived? Maybe we had the best doctors, maybe he had good genes, maybe fate, maybe faith, but thanks to support and research of the March of Dimes, Kryton had the best possible chance of pulling off a miracle. He did exactly that.