On April 21st, 2021 Josh and Meg Yeackle found out that they were pregnant. They had been married for 3 months and were elated. On May 20th they had their first scan and got an estimated due date of December 31st – a New Year’s Baby! They joked that they hoped he came on time so they would get the tax break. On July 3rd they discovered they were having a boy. They were so excited to get ready for our baby, Beckett. They thought they had months and months ahead to prepare, but Beckett had different plans. On August 12th at 19 weeks 3 days gestation, Meg and Josh went to their OB appointment excited to have the anatomy scan. The ultrasound tech confirmed it was a boy and printed out some pictures for them. Meg vividly remembers seeing his sweet little nose and his whole foot captured in one of the photographs. He was perfect. His heart was strong and he was so active. After the ultrasound, they went to speak with their doctor. They were ready to ask questions about delivery, cord clamping, the “golden hour”, all the things that they had read about. The second that she entered the room, they knew something wasn’t right. They were told that Beckett was measuring in the less than first percentile, and that Meg’s placenta was misshapen (globular) and very small. Instead of talking about their future delivery, they were speculating about genetic conditions. They were wondering if Beckett was even going to make it long enough to be born. They were referred to maternal-fetal medicine to get a better idea of what to expect. The problem there was, maternal-fetal medicine wouldn’t see them closer to 22 weeks, which is what is considered viability. Meg and Josh said that time had never passed so slowly. At 21 weeks 3 days, they went to see the MFM doctor, where they had a doppler scan to check blood flow and another anatomy scan. Following it, the doctor came in and told them that in a room of one hundred babies, Beckett would be the smallest by far: 0.03% in size. The blood flow from the placenta to Beckett wasn’t great, the amniotic fluid was low, and he was nearly a week behind in growth. Anatomically, he looked normal, so we had that little blessing to ease our minds. I was told to keep my stress levels low, so I had to stop working. That was probably the most comical thing about it. “Your baby is in trouble, we can’t give you a reason why, but please stay calm!” Best case scenario, they thought they would make it to 27 weeks. Best case scenario.
At 24 weeks gestation, Meg received her first dose of steroids. Every appointment they had a bag packed, ready to be told they were having a baby. They went once per week for about 3 weeks until the blood flow from the umbilical line went into intermittent absent flow. At 26 weeks 6 days gestation, Meg was admitted into labor and delivery for persistent absent flow and decreased fetal movement. She was given another round of steroids for lung development and started a 12-hour magnesium drip to cushion Beckett’s brain and help prevent brain bleeds. Three days later she was taken to the operating room to have a C-section. At 27 weeks 1 day, on October 2, 2021 at 8:55 a.m. Beckett was born.
Meg remembers being so grateful that he weighed more than a pound. She had prayed and begged for grams and ounces while he grew inside of her. Surpassing 500 grams was going to make the biggest difference, because the NICU could work with 500 grams. Beckett only weighed 555 grams, but that felt huge. He did it. He made a little cry when he was born, and he had a frown on his face like he was unhappy for removing him from his cozy quarters. He had to come, though. He had work to do. He had been working hard since the placenta was formed. Meg said he favorite metaphor for Beckett in utero was that he was trying to drink a milkshake through a coffee stirrer. He had to pull so hard to get the bare minimum. There wasn’t enough. As he grew, the small amount he was getting became less and less suitable for growth. “It is a wild thing to hear that your baby will grow better on the outside than the inside. We never even reached the third trimester,” she said.
The first three days in the NICU, Beckett gave Meg and Josh a great honeymoon. His saturation and other levels were good and he was doing well on the traditional vent. Then the honeymoon period ended, and he went into respiratory distress. He was switched from a traditional ventilator to a jet ventilator, which pushed in 400+ breaths per minute at a lower pressure to minimize lung trauma while still giving adequate oxygen. On the traditional vent, the pressures required to keep his saturation up could have been detrimental.
After 19 long days, she was finally able to hold her baby. She spent 19 days staring at him through holes in plastic, wearing gloves and touching him however and whenever I was allowed. Let that sink in: whenever she was ‘allowed’ to touch her baby. She couldn’t smell him or kiss him. She couldn’t kiss him at all for t