The Morris Family
On December 3, after working a full day in the office, I felt uncomfortable, and noticed that I was contracting. I wasn’t quite sure because this was my first experience, but the pain kept coming … and didn’t stop. I was thinking to myself, this just couldn’t be happening. I drove myself to a local hospital (Reston, VA), left my vehicle running (in panic) in the parking lot, and checked myself into emergency. After being moved to a room, my friends were called to be by my side, as my husband was away working in Memphis, and parents lived in Raleigh, NC.
The nurses confirmed I was in labor, and both of the doctors and nurses actually told me once my son was born, they would give me time to spend with him, and they would not resuscitate or support him, because he would be too premature to help. Unfortunately, overnight my water broke, and I was too scared to look under the sheets, as I was told that my son was also so small that he could be born without me noticing. However, overnight, I stayed in labor, and my parents and husband arrived the next morning. The events that followed were a shear miracle. A random doctor (random, because he was not working that night, walked in, and suggested that I be rushed to a level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which was Medstar Georgtown Hostpital. Georgetown Hospital NICU doctors and nurses indicated that if I could wait a few more days to deliver, my son would have a stronger survival rate at 23 weeks, compared to 22 weeks.
And I did just that ….
Our son was born December 6, at 1.7 lbs. He was born 4 months too early. As a micro-preemie, he is among the smallest babies to be born, not only because of his weight, but his gestational age - at 23 weeks.
My husband and I had so many emotions during this experience, as we finally had this beautiful boy named Antony Kennon, but we also knew he was very small and fragile, and we all had a long road ahead of us.
Unfortunately, there are many medical complications around a 23-weeker, which is why we had an extended NICU stay (207 days), and as a result, a complicated discharge home as well. Antony had approximately 15 surgeries and procedures, two cerebral hemorrhages, blood products (transfusions, platelets, plasma) daily, and oxygen support during his stay. Over the past 3 years, that increased to about 20 surgeries. I was finally able to hold Antony on January 8, 2016, and not again for almost 3 months. Antony was soon diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC. NEC is a serious and rare disease that affects the intestines of premature infants. Antony had amazing medical and supportive care through his colostomy surgery and three months later during his open colostomy reversal surgery, when they reconnected his intestines and removed the stoma.
Towards the end of July 2016, Antony was discharged; however, his post hospital environment looked very much like his hospital environment. Antony came home on total perinatal nutrition (TPN) with a broviac, gastrostomy tube (g-tube), oxygen support, pulse ox monitor, apnea monitor, and a host of nebulizers and medicines.
Georgetown Hospital nurses and doctors were amazing. During Antony’s hospital stay, they took the time to teach me many processes and lifesaving procedures I would need to continue to help Antony at home. In and out of the hospital, I became Antony’s nurse, as well as his mother. This was a different type of motherhood than what I expected, given the medications, breathing treatments, feeding tube, and excessive doctors’ appointments.
Fortunately, overtime Antony’s health condition has improved … better than what his doctors and nurses expected. As a result of NEC, Antony will continue to live with short bowel syndrome (SBS), and will continue to see a specialist to help support his special dietary needs. Antony is still catching up physically as well as medically; but cognitively, Antony has made remarkable improvements. Given his severe prematurity, it is very difficult to compare him to other premature infants due to medical needs. Antony continues physical, speech, and occupational therapy both at home and at school, but as of May 2018 Antony is no longer connected to any tubes or machines, and recently has been dismissed from all medications and breathing treatments.
Antony is a true superhero.