Friday, April 17, 2009

Guest Blogger - Denise on her premie son Parker

I want to feature something a little different this week. Denise has a wonderful son who was a premie and has struggles along the way. Many of us in the blog world are aware of the terrible passing of Maddie who was premature. Heather, her mother was working to earn money for the March of Dimes before Maddie passed away and had a goal of $3,000. It wasn't until after Maddie passed away that many of us tearfully give to this wonderful cause. Last I knew Maddies March had earned more than $22,000 for March of Dimes. Isn't it sad that it took something as terrible as her dying for us to act. This is a story of Parker who is over 10 months old now and doing well. If you have not already supported this cause then you might want to consider it. It doesn't have to be much, every little bit helps. Thanks!!


First of all, I want to thank you, Sandy, for not only asking me to be a guest on your blog, but also for allowing me to share my story. It means a lot to be able to share our story to others. I am thankful for this opportunity since this blog is about organizing!
Well, as Sandy said, I am Denise. I am a happily married 20-something and 1st time mommy! I have been blogging for years, but most of my older blogs were from the college years and centered around that time in my life. I have been writing my current blog (Musings from Mommy Land) for less than a year. I started it as a way to update family and friends on my son, Parker.
Parker’s story is the special one that I want to share today. It starts in December of 2007, when I found out that I was expecting our first child. Thrilled does not even begin to describe how I felt when I found out I was pregnant! My biggest goal in life, after being married was to be a mom! In the middle of a somewhat rough pregnancy, things started getting worse and worse. I was working at the time, and just standing for the 4 hours shifts was difficult. I would get lightheaded, sick, and pale very easily. Late in the night on the 20th of May, I ended up in the ER, then in Labor and Delivery Triage with terrible pains in my stomach and side. That evening I was sent home on a special heartburn medication, but things just got worse. Two days later I was spotting and could barely walk due to my pain. After going to sleep on May 28th, I found I could not sleep and went back into the hospital at 4:00 am. That night would change everything.
After several hours on monitors and tests, I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome. It is a variant of preeclampsia and is life threatening. The letters stand for Hemolytic Anemia, Elevated Liver Enzymes and Low Platelet count. I had two of those three symptoms: the elevated liver enzymes and the low platelet count – which was so low I required a transfusion. I also had terribly high blood pressure. Unfortunately the causes of HELLP syndrome are unknown, but current thinking seems to indicate that it has to do with the mother’s body viewing the baby & placenta as foreign objects and attempting to reject them.
The treatment for this? Delivering the baby. Because of how low my platelets were, I was rushed into an emergency c-section where I was put completely under, and Parker was delivered. Parker was born on May 29th, 2008, at just 29 weeks. He weighed only 2lbs 3ozs and was 14.5 inches long. He required help breathing through a ventilator and was then hooked up to a CPAP, a machine that pushes air into his lungs to help them expand better (he was breathing on his own). Meanwhile, I was placed in the ICU, on a ventilator as well, and was very, very ill.
While my recovery was speedy (I was released after 6 days), Parker would spend the next two and a half months in the NICU. Thankfully, he did not have many severe complications from his early arrival. He did required help the CPAP and than a nasal cannula for a little over a month, but would not need to come home on oxygen (common among preemies).

Parker’s biggest obstacle became severe acid reflux. He would be sent home on Zantac and would be required to sleep propped up on a wedge for 3 months. For the 2.5 months Parker was in the hospital, I would spend everyday, 6 hours a day by his bedside soaking in his preciousness and realizing that my life will be different now. It was an emotional time for me, I was still sick, I never produced enough milk and after 7 weeks of pumping I chose to stop. I was blessed, though, to make friends in the NICU and reach out to others.
After 69 days in the NICU Parker was discharged from the hospital, a week before his original due date (August 12, 2008), and we were on our way home to a new way of life. This time in the hospital proved to be the hardest, scariest time in my life; but it was also a faith building time and rewarding, as I was able to meet many other parents who understand the NICU “home” and lifestyle.
Today, Parker is happy, healthy, little 10.5 month old. These last 8 months with Parker at home have not been easy. We have had to protect Parker from getting ill and be very vigilant about those who visit. He was at a higher risk of RSV (a severe breathing disease among infants), so he required a monthly shot to help lessen the severity of RSV. Just last month, we ended up in the emergency room for 16 hours when Parker started having breathing issues – he came home on an inhaler.
We have learned how to take care of him in a special way, and we have had to learn to know both his ages. Chronologically, he is 10.5 months, but developmentally he is only 8 months old (this is his adjusted age). We do a lot of therapy at home to help him stay on track with his developmental age (which he has!). His biggest challenges currently are communication and social-emotional skills. We work daily on these to help him stay on track.
I count myself blessed to have a preemie because I have been able to reach out to others and share my story with them. The life of a preemie parent can be difficult because you have to learn to view your child differently than what others might. It’s a very exclusive “family” the NICU/preemie family. It can be scary, especially for parents who have children that our more challenged then ours. But, it’s great to know that there are others out there that understand the lifestyle.
Through out these 10.5 months we have met other families who understand our challenges and we have been able to share our story as a way to let those just starting on this journey know that it is hard and it is scary, but you aren’t alone. Our faith has also been a big part of our journey and we are thankful for a wonderful church family and many, many friends who have stepped up to help us.
Just in the past few months we have found ourselves being heavily involved in the March of Dimes and will be participating in our local March for Babies walk on April 26th, 2009. It is our hope that the donations we raise will help with ongoing research. This research, we hope, will help find ways to prevent HELLP syndrome and other causes of prematurity
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this post on Sandy’s blog. I know that it is not the typical post, but I really hope that you enjoyed it. If you would like to read more about my family and daily life, please feel free to come to my website anytime! Musings from Mommyland If you are interested in knowing more about the March of Dimes and their work please head to their website located at and if you are interested in donating to our team, please feel free to click on this link:
March of Dimes March for Parker
Lets see a lot more babies look as good as this at 10 months old!!


Ali said...

yay Parker!

Denise said...

YAY!!!! Thank you sandy!!!

Carrie said...

Great post, Denise! I love it! It was so neat to hear Parker's story in such a concise manner. I can't imagine how scary his birth must have been, and the time in the hospital, but it's neat how you've glorified God through your experiences as his mommy. :)

Heatherlyn said...

Your story is amazing. I'm so glad that you ended up with such a cute, healthy little boy!

chaotic kitten said...

Parker is the cutest of the cute!

~Denise~ said...

Glad you and Parker are healthy now. I'm a HELLP survivor as well and know how scary it is. Best wishes to you with your walk!