Our Daughter Evelyn was born October 13, 2005. She was born at 24 weeks gestation, after Jessica’s water broke unexpectedly at 23 weeks. Evelyn weighed 1 lb. 3 oz. She attempted to breathe and fight for life at birth, so she was whisked to the NICU where she spent 5 months. The first words out of the nurse’s mouth when I finally arrived were, “She’s feisty.” I questioned whether that was good or not, and was assured at that point, it was.
Words cannot adequately describe the up and down roller coaster ride that my wife and I, along with Evelyn, went through for those 5 months in the NICU. It was truly minute by minute. After her first month, she had a rapid decline in the span of just a few days. Her Lung disease and edema and various infections she was fighting caught up to her all at once……….we were called back to the hospital after we had just left. The doctors and nurses told us we needed to stay, Evelyn was so sick, they were not sure if she was going to make it. A nurse asked if we had ever gotten to hold her and we said no. So they quickly made it possible for Jessica to hold her, at least once, while she was still alive. We were forced to discuss the possibility of putting her on the ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ list, because she was so sick and struggling. We turned her life over to God and decided if her next blood gas test came back awful again, then we were going to have to make some hard decisions. Miraculously, after spending the worst night of our lives just a few rooms down from her, she slowly made a turn around. She responded well to the emergency steroids they had started and she began doing better and better each day.
We are very happy to become involved with the March of Dimes now, because we know without all the work that the March of Dimes does, we would not have our sassy, funny, strong-willed beautiful Evelyn in our lives.
After a LONG additional 4 months, we brought her home. She came home with an apnea monitor and oxygen tank, but she was home. She has poor vision, because of the amount of oxygen she was on to keep her alive and she had to have laser eye surgery twice in the NICU to save her sight, but she can see. She sees well with her glasses and can keep up with her big sister Bella.
Throughout our ordeal we became aware of the advancements that have been made for preemies, some of which probably saved Evelyn’s life. From the sugar water that was used to feed her and the surfactant used to keep her lungs from collapsing, to the specialized incubators and ventilators that kept her alive, without these, we know she wouldn’t be here. And without the March of Dimes, these life-saving technologies probably wouldn’t exist.
The 5 months we spent going back and forth from Williamsburg to Norfolk every single day, changed our lives forever. We can appreciate the normal-ness of life now and it feels great.
But we are also very humble and reserved in our feelings of joy for Evelyn, because we met so many families during our 5 months at the NICU who are not as fortunate. Those babies, and their families have faced much more challenging events then we have, and some of them didn’t get to take their baby home at all. So though we are truly blessed, we know that Evelyn is the exception, and not the norm. And it is through the help of the March of Dimes that hopefully in the future, most, if not all, premature babies will grow up like Evelyn, and hopefully, one day, they will become the norm, not the exception.