A big thank you to Megan Weatherford for being willing to share her family’s precious story with us! EBF is so thankful to have been able to be a small part in your story and to have the opportunity to share it with others! Below Megan shares the story of their recent NICU journey:
A stay in the NICU is one of those life experiences you see other people have but one you assume you won’t experience firsthand. At least, I never did. My husband, Jason, and I were blessed with a little boy, Oliver, in March 2016 after a healthy and nearly full term pregnancy (I had him at 38 weeks) and a routine delivery. So, when we found out in December 2017 that we were expecting twins that upcoming summer, the possibility of a NICU stay became a possibility simply because the risk of pre-term labor rises with twins.
Thankfully, I had a typical and healthy pregnancy for the most part. We found out on Valentine’s Day (when I was 16 weeks) that we were having a girl and a boy. By 32 weeks, both babies were measuring ahead of schedule and Baby A (our little girl) was head down and positioned quite low. I began experiencing a lot of pressure and what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions at that point and when I went to the doctor at 32 weeks, 4 days, the doctor realized I was dilated 2 cm and 70% effaced. I was immediately sent to our hospital in Somerset, but because I was in pre-term labor and our hospital does not have a NICU the babies would have been able to stay in, I was rushed via ambulance to Baptist Health Lexington. This is when the possibility of a NICU stay became an evident reality.
By the time I arrived at Baptist Health, I was already dilated 4 cm and they continued the process of trying to slow down my contractions and gave me steroids to help with the babies’ development. It appeared that we would be meeting our twins that day, but thankfully, by around 11 pm that night, my contractions had slowed down and delivery was not imminent. For 9 very long days, I stayed in the hospital to track my contractions, the twins’ heart rates, and my progress. I remained at 4 cm for many days and we were all thankful that the babies were getting the opportunity to grow and develop in utero. The biggest issue was that Jason and I couldn’t be with Oliver aside from the times my family would bring him up to visit and, even then, he had a difficult time comprehending what was going on and why we had to be there.
After being at a standstill for many days, I asked Jason to go home to be with Oliver and take care of some bills. That night, however, Dr. O’Broin was making his rounds and decided to check my cervix since, as he put it, he didn’t like surprises and wanted to make sure I was still at 4 cm before I went to bed. To his and my surprise, I was actually dilated to 8 cm and was 100% effaced, meaning I would be having my babies very soon. Everybody went into action at that point. My mother, who had came to stay with me in place of Jason that night, immediately called him and told him to head back to Lexington. I was taken to Labor and Delivery and prepped for delivery. My water broke on it’s own around 12 am, but Baby A’s head sealed the sac back up, labor slowed down, and it required the doctor manually breaking the sac to start labor back up. Thankfully, after so many days of painful contractions and active labor, the deliver itself was incredibly easy. I pushed for about 15 minutes and Iris Mae was born at 06:02 am on Thursday, June 14, and Ezra Lee was born at 6:06 am. I was 33 weeks and 6 days—one day shy of 34 weeks. Iris came out kicking and screaming and was 5 lbs. 6 oz. and 18 inches long. Ezra was healthy at 4 lbs. 13 oz. and 18 inches long, but he had a more difficult time breathing and crying and was immediately put on oxygen to help. I was able to hold Iris and see Ezra, but they were soon whisked away to the NICU accompanied by Jason and I was taken to a recovery room.
The first day in the NICU was tough for me, personally. Seeing our brand new babies hooked up to all of these machines and monitors with wires and IVs and in an isolette that protected them but made it difficult for me touch them was not really what I had expected so many months before. Ezra was especially concerning with his trouble breathing, requiring a CPAP and a round of artificial surfactant to breath properly. But each day, we watched our babies grow, develop, and make progress in the NICU.
A few of the days that stand out for me during our time in the NICU were the days Ezra no longer needed to be on oxygen to breath optimally, the day both babies’ feeding tubes were no longer needed, and the day they were placed in open air cribs. What may have been little accomplishments to some were huge victories to us and Jason and I were both incredibly grateful for the nurses who cared for our twins each day and helped make those accomplishments possible. Every nurse we encountered in the NICU was informative, helpful, and patient with both us and our babies. They made us feel comfortable in what can be a very stressful environment. They made it to where we felt prepared when Iris was released to go home two weeks after she was born.
Unfortunately, Ezra was still having some drops in his oxygen level and heart rate and that held him back from being released at the same time as his sister. From that point on, Jason and I were taking turns driving up to Lexington to be with Ezra while the other stayed at home caring for Iris and Oliver. It made for a difficult couple of weeks, but after receiving caffeine to speed up his cardiovascular development and a five day period of no drops in oxygen or heart rate, he was finally released to go home after four weeks in the NICU.
Throughout those four weeks, Ezra and Iris received the best care possible from the doctors and nurses in the NICU at Baptist Health. They set them on the path to health that they continue to be on today and gave us the tools to be the best preemie parents possible. We received tremendous amounts of support from the NICU staff at Baptist Health, organizations like Early Bird Foundation, and our amazing family and friends.
Our babies are now 6 weeks old and doing wonderfully at home. They are both growing and gaining weight like they should as well as developing their own personalities and individual preferences, Oliver has assumed his role as big brother seamlessly, and we are all learning how to live life as a family of 5 now.
I will be eternally grateful to each person that made our NICU story a positive one and allowed our babies to be successful NICU graduates. Although I never expected to have this story to tell, I am so thankful for my two precious babies and proud to tell and re-tell how their lives were positively impacted by their time in the NICU.
Please join us in praying for this wonderful family as they continue to accustom themselves to life outside of the NICU! It is a wonderful time of healing and joining together for families who have been separated by those hospital walls. We are so thankful for our families who share with us their story so that we can come to understand each other and how to help a little bit more!