The Hammer Family
I had an easy/normal start to my pregnancy. At 25 weeks, during a quick overnight getaway to Whidbey Island, my face started to get a bit pink and puffy. I didn't think much of it but called my doctor to ask if I could take a Benadryl. The doctor called me back and asked if I was having any other symptoms such as vision changes. I wasn't - so I took the Benadryl and explored the island. When we checked into the hotel that evening, I sat down and saw some light flickering in the corner of my eye. It was so faint, I thought it was surely my imagination. A minute later I saw another flicker of light- very faint again. Since the doctor asked me about vision changes I called her to let her know about the new symptoms.
The doctor asked me to get my blood pressure taken immediately so my husband drove me to the local drug store where I stuck my arm in one of those old fashioned machines with a cuff that I used to play with as a little kid. After discovering my blood pressure had suddenly become dangerously high, I rushed to the small island hospital. The on-call physician immediately gave me a steroid shot to jumpstart the development of my daughter's lungs and meds to get my blood pressure down. When they couldn't get my blood pressure into a safe zone, they let me know that my baby may have to be delivered that night so they had to get me back to another hospital with a Level 4 NICU - as that was the only kind of hospital equipped to deal with a baby that small.
They helicoptered me back to Seattle while my husband drove home on the ferry. I remained in the hospital for a few days while they worked to get my blood pressure under control. Once I was stable, things shifted to my daughter.
They explained that she would be born early - as my placenta was slowly failing and she wasn't getting enough blood . The goal was to keep her inside of me for as long as it was safe to do so, and get her out quickly as soon as it was no longer safe. As such, they monitored us both constantly to ensure my blood pressure didn't spike again and that her heart kept beating. They stressed that every week, every day, every hour mattered and they kept a countdown on the whiteboard next to my bed with how many days I had made it.
Then at 26 weeks and 4 days, during a routine check, my nurse couldn't find my daughter's heartbeat. I didn't think much of it - as it often took a while to find it. It wasn't until the doctor started screaming to clear the floor that I realized what was happening. Peyton was born via emergency c-section (3.5 months early).
When Peyton was born, she weighed 1 lb 3 oz and was 12 inches long. When she was delivered, her heart was not beating and she was not breathing. She didn't have a name for her first 7 days of life - because we hadn't picked out a name yet. We were in the second trimester of pregnancy when she was born - we thought we had plenty of time.
She stayed in the NICU for 88 days where she learned to breathe, eat and regulate her own body temperature in the outside world. She is now home and healthy and meeting all of her developmental milestones.
Peyton had a wonderful outcome. While she is surely our miracle - this kind of outcome isn't just due to chance. My OBGYN knew the signs of pre-eclampsia, took me seriously and urged me to get my blood pressure checked. The on-call physician at a tiny island hospital gave me steroids to jump start Peyton's lung development - expecting she would need to be delivered early. We had access to a Level 4 NICU with the best neonatologists, nurses, feeding specialists and respiratory therapists.
March of Dimes directly supports two areas that are close to my heart: scientific research and education/advocacy. Both of these things directly lead to improve outcomes for premature babies. If you believe, like I do, that all mothers and babies deserve the right to the best care possible, please join me in supporting the work of this organization.