23 week Survivor
Being pregnant with multiples can come with very high risks. Today’s micro preemie story is a result of some of those risks. We will meet a 23 week survivor, who not only survived a triplet pregnancy, but also a NICU stay filled with challenges.
It is an inspiring story, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you. Please meet Cole, an amazing 23 week survivor, as told by his mom, Jennifer.
1. Tell us about your babies.
Cole was born on February 25th, 2016 at 23 weeks and 1 day. He was the only survivor of his triplet brothers and was born with sepsis. He weighed 1 lb 5 oz and was 10 inches long.
2. How long was your NICU stay? What was the hardest part?
Cole spent 165 days in the NICU. In the middle of his NICU stay, Cole had to be transported to another hospital to undergo eye surgery to treat his ROP. While at the same hospital, they decided to do heart surgery to close his PDA. After he had healed from both operations, he was able to go back to his home hospital to finish out the duration of his NICU stay.
The hardest part of the NICU stay was not knowing what was going to happen from day-to-day. It was this constant heart-break that I felt every moment of his stay. Some days were better than others but leaving him at night always hurt so bad.
Cole had hernia surgery early on because he wasn’t having bowel movements. He developed medical NEC at one point but luckily they caught it quick enough, and he didn’t need surgery. Even though Cole endured so much we know how truly lucky we have been.
Cole ended up coming home on 1/8th liter of oxygen. Today, he is off of oxygen during the day and only needs a little bit at night.
3. Do you know what caused your premature birth?
Being pregnant with triplets is risky, and unfortunately, my cervix began to shorten at 19 weeks. Even with an emergency cerclage and hospital bedrest, my water broke with baby a (Andrew) and he was delivered at 21 weeks. I managed to keep baby b and baby Cole in until 23 weeks, but baby b (Benjamin) died in utero due to infection a day before I went into labor again with Cole.
Cole was born very sick and we weren’t sure if he would survive the night, but surprisingly he did. We held our breaths every day, but somehow he pushed through and is doing amazing.
4. How are you and Cole doing now?
Cole is doing absolutely amazing. He’s 10 months actual (6 adjusted) and he is reaching all of his milestones based on his due date. He loves to sit up (still needs a little help at times) and loves to jump with help! He gets birth to 3 services several times a month, and so far they are pleased with how well he is doing. He will need another hernia surgery in a few months and will hopefully be fully off of oxygen support soon.
He does have issues making sound, so we see an ENT next month to see what’s going on. His cardiologist and ophthalmologist have both cleared him.
We are starting to think that we can see a bright and happy future, although we are scared to be so excited. (I’m sure other preemie moms can relate!)
5. What advice would you give to a new preemie family?
The NICU was by far the worst and best experience in my life. I’m a changed person by the nurses and other families I encountered. Also, watching your baby suffer has to be the hardest thing ever. There were days I went into the lactation room to just cry. I always took the time to be sad when I wanted to be, but always tried to find the positive in each day. It was both a traumatic and therapeutic place for me.
I was so fortunate to be surrounded by nurses who not only cared so deeply for my son but for me and my husband as well. I think talking daily with those special nurses helped me begin to heal and deal with life. My advice would be to find someone, be it a nurse or other mom in the NICU, and lean on them for support.
Also, I learned that taking time for myself helped me out so much. I’m a runner, so I would always try to get a few runs in during the week. I may have cried on most of them but it helped me cope. The online Facebook groups that dealt with preemies were a great resource, as well as our march of dimes representative.
I think being with Cole as much as possible helped too. I read to him, talked to him, kissed and held him when I could and I think that helped comfort him to hear his mama’s voice and feel my touch.
One thing that I recommend is keeping a notebook for your child in the nicu and asking the nurses to write in it and writing notes to your baby to one day read. It helped me express my feelings for my child and also served as a way for my nurses to connect with our family. We celebrated every little milestone with pictures glued in his journal and bright markers that lit up the pages!
Thank you so much to Jennifer for sharing sweet Cole with us, and for sharing her journey. He is truly a miracle, and I can’t wait to see what this 23 week survivor does in the future. I know he will be amazing.
Please leave any supportive comments for Jennifer and Cole below.