Friday, March 2, 2012

Meet Fandom Preemies: Liam, Noah, and Meredith

My first pregnancy was easy. Conception had been easy for us, and the pregnancy progressed perfectly - I didn't even have morning sickness. We bought the baby books, set up the nursery, and one Saturday when I was 35 weeks pregnant, we went to a birthing class. It really shook up my husband, who spent the whole ride home saying how important it was for my mother to be in town before I went into labor because he wasn't sure he could handle it.

After we got home, I lay down on the couch, and a flood of water gushed out. I told my husband we had to go to the hospital. He took a moment to be shocked and then was there for me like a rock. Liam was born about five hours later, at 1:30 in the morning. He was breathing okay and seemed to be feeding okay, so they sent us home that afternoon.

A week later, we were back in the NICU because he'd had such severe jaundice he was too worn out to eat. He spent a week under the lights and then on a feeding tube until he was ready to go home again. He turns 11 next month. He has Aspergers, an autism spectrum disorder, but it's not clear whether that's related to his prematurity. He also has sensory processing issues, which are likely related to his Aspergers but which are also associated with prematurity. He's a wonderful, loving boy who loves snakes, alligators, and dragons, and he can and will tell a million facts about them.

My second pregnancy turned out to be twins, and starting late in my second trimester, I began having preterm labor. At first, bedrest helped, but at 29 weeks I was hospitalized and placed on extremely strong muscle relaxers. Once the contractions seemed to be under control, I was sent home with a self-injection system, which was supposed to help.

Less than a week after release, I was back in the hospital, and this time, labor was too far advanced to stop. Noah and Meredith were born at 31 weeks, on December 13, 2002. Noah weighed only 3 lbs. 3 oz., while Meredith was 4 lbs. 2 oz. They stayed in the NICU for a little over a month. Luckily, while they needed oxygen, they did not need a ventilator and were able to breathe on their own.

You would never know that Meredith was premature - her size is right in the middle of the pack for her age, and she has no other effects. She's a social butterfly with a beautiful singing voice and Team Jacob all the way. Noah is small for his age - until he hit a growth spurt recently I thought he might be wearing 4T until he was in middle school - and has sensory processing issues. He is also bipolar, but there's a family history of it so it's not clear whether it's related to his prematurity. He's very smart and loves Legos and computers.

I feel extremely fortunate that all three of them came through relatively unscathed and are healthy today. I am grateful for all the research that helped give them their best possible chance.


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