Thursday, October 10, 2013

That's Preemie Power!!!

By Jordan Stowe-

Life for me as a stay at home dad of a preemie is awesome! Because let me tell you, my wife and I had some severe infertility issues to begin with. I was, as a man, worried that I wouldn’t bond with her. That I wouldn’t feel like her father. That I would feel insignificant in the whole thing. Boy, was I wrong. I think God gave us a preemie, so that I would feel that strong connection with my daughter. Because, now I’m the first one she sees when she wakes in the morning, typically the last at night. I love taking care of her. I never knew I could be attached to someone so much. As a father of a preemie, the NICU journey was very tough emotionally. I took a big toll on me as a man. 

I spent a lot of time crying, praying, and just staring into this isolet feeling so helpless. My wife was upstairs in the ICU for the first three days of my daughters life. It was so hard on me sharing my time between the two. I had to be there for my newborn 3lb daughter and I had to be there for my wife who just had emergency surgery to deliver the baby. It was a very hard and trying time for me. I’ve always been soft hearted, but to see the NICU for the first time, and knowing that right out the gate, my daughter was a patient among them just ripped my heart out. You know, as a man and father, you want what’s best for your children. You never want to see them cry or hurt. 

After those weeks in the NICU and the week stay before Addie was born, my emotion tank was on empty. And in so many ways, still is. I’m a stay at home dad by choice. I can’t wait for play dates, birthday parties, and just all the crazy children stuff. Because for so many of those nights, I didn’t know if she would even leave the hospital. With us, anyway. It has been and continues to be an awesome, incredible, sad, and emotion filled experience. If one thing my daughter has taught me, it’s compassion. She took this heart that was becoming so cold and hard, and melted it with a single smile. They say, us fathers, are supposed to be the strong ones in the family. Well I can attest, my preemie is definitely the strongest in ours. 

 At only 3lbs she fought for her life, and WON! That’s Preemie Power.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Importance Of Community

By Joel Brens-

As we congregate in Nashville for our 2013 Preemie Parent Alliance summit, I can't help but reflect on what I have learned from last years summit and what I hope to gain from this years. During last years summit we received gift bags full of items from all the different organizations attending. Included in the package was a small wooden box with a tree on it. Inside were stones with words that we can relate to what we do in the NICU support community, as well as it relates to our own NICU experiences. A couple months ago I opened the box back up and thought at length about what exactly it represents.

First and foremost, PASSION to make a positive difference is what drives me as well as the other members of PPA to do what we do. I feel like we are making strides with fathers voices in and after the NICU, but we still have a long way to go.

TRUST is another thing that plays a key role in community support. Sometimes we face decisions or experience things that may not seem normal, and through trusting our support groups, we often realize we are not alone with our worries, when we can say "Yes! I do understand how you feel!"

We are constantly trying to CREATE new ways to provide support, resources, and advice, on a individual basis, and collectively as a larger organization. I am committed to offering as many services through Papas as possible, even if it means referencing you to one of many other amazing organizations.

We EMBRACE diversity, because the reality is everyone manages their NICU experience differently. Much the same, multiple members of PPA have resources addressing specific needs (micro-preemie, bereavement, multiples, special needs). Whether you spent three days in the NICU while your child was treated for jaundice, or you spent six months, (and countless nights) wondering if your child would make it, your insights and feelings are always welcome and important to us. Diversity is what makes us great.

Finally, HARMONY, which brings me back to why I feel the Preemie Parent Alliance is capable of doing amazing things. The work the leadership team is doing to provide us with opportunities to speak to medical and health care professionals is fantastic! Parents are starting to feel more empowered, hospitals are embracing the importance of parents care while child is in NICU. All these things are possible because of a changing tide, and the Preemie Parent Alliance is playing a large role in making it happen.

To learn more about what we are doing as an organization, be sure to check out the Preemie Parent Alliance's homepage.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Father's Story

By Jordan Stowe-

It was a Wednesday. My wife’s platelet count had been steadily decreasing as well as her blood pressure rising. She had been in the hospital for almost a week. She and the baby were hooked up to all sorts of monitors and had tests ran around the clock, to ensure mother and baby health and safety.

As a father, I will never forget Dr Adkins walking in the room and telling my wife to get prepped for surgery. I remember being so terrified. First for myself, then for my wife, then for my little girl that was about to be introduced into this world. I looked at Shanna, my wife, and she was smiling as she said, “We are about to be parents!” I remember my mom just happened to have dropped in to see us, and I’m so glad she was there when she was. I was a nervous wreck. I had this abundance of thoughts, feelings, and emotions flowing. I was scared for my wife who was about to go into surgery. What if something happened to her during surgery? What if something happened to my little girl while we were in there? Did I remember my camera? Man, I’m hungry… Just a rush of ideas and questions now enter my mind.

I sat in the OR waiting for the anesthesiologist to do his job, and for the nurses and doctors to put up screens so I couldn’t see anything. I’m petrified of blood. But, as I sat there waiting for them to come get me all I could think about was Adeline, my sweet innocent little girl about to be born. I had no idea the events that would soon unfold.

After what seemed liked hours, they finally came and got me and led me to the OR room. My wife was laying on a table with a screen hiding her from the neck down. There were two doctors behind her monitoring her blood pressure and three doctors beside her assisting the surgeons. I could hear every incision, every drop of blood as it hit the pan, and every spoken word in the room. The one thing I didn’t hear, was Adeline cry when she was born. It was the most terrifying moment I’ve ever experienced. She would be started immediately on a C-PAP to help her start breathing on her own. Dr Adkins had announced her birth and the Neonatologist that night brought Adeline to her mother and I for a brief second before being whisked upstairs to the NICU. That two seconds would be the only time my wife saw her daughter for another 24 hours.

As I walked into the NICU for the first time, it was very dark and almost morbid. I saw a father holding his little girl in one hand, cupped to his chest. I’ve seen Barbies that were bigger. It was then that it hit me, that our little 3lb baby was going to be on a journey. Little did I know, that place that was dark and dreary would soon become a beacon of hope for my family. In a room full of chest tubes, IV’s, and feeding tubes there my little Adeline laid sleeping in her isolet. All I could do was look at her through the glass. I felt so helpless. I wanted to pick her up and tell her about her mommy, daddy, her dog and cat. I wanted to pick her up and know everything was going to be okay.

That first night she had a desat and a brady episode during the night. I remember starting the day at the NICU and finishing the day at the NICU. I didn’t want my daughter to fight alone. Since she’s been home, I still make a bed in her nursery, the nights my wife works, so I can be close to her. I will always be grateful to the NICU nurses and doctors who gave her the best fighting chance at this world.
I have accomplished great things in my life. But none greater the feeling, than to hold my daughter every night now, and know that smile on her face… I put it there.