* Age: 3 * Born at 29 weeks gestation *
I loved being pregnant. I loved the way I looked and the way I felt. I adored the feeling of my daughter rolling around in my belly. Pregnancy was easy for me. I had no morning sickness, no aches and pains--no complaints at all.
On March 20, 2007, I felt what I believed to be Braxton-Hicks contractions. When they became progressively worse, my husband took me to the doctor, just to check things out. Turns out, I had preeclampsia. I was 29 weeks pregnant.
After being poked, prodded, and examined for a few days, the doctors decided to put me on hospital bed rest, to try to keep me pregnant as long as possible.
At 4 a.m. on March 23rd, I woke up and couldn’t see. My vision was spotty, and I just felt wrong. According to my husband, who was staying in the room with me, I yelled and woke him up, and started seizing. My case of preeclampsia had quickly developed; I was having eclamptic seizures and my daughter was in distress.
The seizures stopped at 7 a.m. Doctors told me they were going to do an emergency C-section. I knew it was far too soon for my daughter to be born, so I adamantly refused. I believed that if she was born at 29 weeks, she wouldn’t survive. They told me I would die. I felt like I was killing my child--I wanted to die.
Looking back, I realize that my logic was flawed. However, I had been seizing for hours, and I was faced with the possibility of my own death, and my unborn child’s. Needless to say, I wasn’t at my best.
After assurances from who would become my daughter’s pediatricians, I finally conceded to the doctors, my husband, and my family. Kaydence Isabella was born at 8:29 that morning. She weighed one pound, seven ounces, and was twelve inches long.
Let me put that in perspective. An office tape dispenser. A Pizza Hut Calzone. A guinea pig. A dozen Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. A book. A shoe. A small laptop. A 20 ounce bottle of soda. All these things weigh between one and two pounds--like my daughter.
Just in case that’s not enough, here’s more. A standard file folder. A ruler. Two dollar bills, laid end to end. A Subway sandwich. All these things are twelve inches long--like my daughter.
If you’re wearing a ring, take it off and look at the size of the opening. My wedding band went over my daughter’s hand, and slid all the way up to her shoulder. My husband’s went over her foot, and up to her knee.
Everyone joked that her name was bigger than she was, so we began lovingly calling her Kaydie Bell, for short.
Her 57 days in the hospital were, by far, the hardest of my life. When she was first born, physical contact caused her pain. I wasn’t able to touch her for days. She was one week old before I could hold her. Because of NICU regulations, I could only visit her at five predetermined times per day, each visit lasting about half an hour.
I can’t stress this point enough: In so many ways, we were lucky.
During her months in NICU, she required the use of a ventilator, a CPAP machine (a mask over the nose that helps with the uptake of oxygen), and standard nasal oxygen tubes. For most of the two months, she required a feeding tube to eat.
Kaydie Bell had one lumbar puncture, four blood transfusions, and countless blood tests, IVs, x-rays, MRIs, and echocardiograms.
She came home on May 19, 2007, weighing three pounds, ten ounces. She was fifteen and a half inches long.
Kaydie Bell is now three years old. She has had surgery to correct a herniated ovary, and has a small cataract in one of her eyes. She requires speech therapy for a mild language delay. She weighs twenty four pounds, and is three feet tall.
She’s happy, energetic, and a miniature fashionista. She could eat her weight in macaroni and cheese, cereal, or peanut butter. She’s full of personality--she already rolls her eyes at me. To us, she’s absolutely perfect.
My family is undeniably and unbelievably blessed--Kaydie Bell survived. Many preemies don’t. Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my daughter, and taking an interest in the fight for healthy babies.