The Ups and Downs of a Preemie
"Roller coaster ride" sometimes just doesn't adequately describe the ups and downs experienced by parents of preemies dealing with their child's health complications.
"It's more like that 'Tower of Terror' at Disney World," said Andrea (Andi) Moskow of Overland Park, Kan., whose son Jacob was born at 24 weeks of gestation on Feb. 19, 2012. The 1 lb., 8 oz. infant was intubated and received 21 minutes of CPR at a local hospital before being whisked to the Children's Mercy Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which provides the most advanced technology in neonatal and surgical care as the only Level 4 NICU in the region.
Jacob spent the next three months in the Children's Mercy NICU where staff members helped him overcome complications of prematurity that included Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), a gastrointestinal disease, and Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), a condition that can lead to abnormal blood flow between the aorta and pulmonary artery, two major blood vessels that carry blood from the heart. Later, he also was treated for bowel problems.
"For a while it was like taking one step forward and three steps back," said Ms. Moskow.
Shortly after Jacob worked through some of his tummy troubles caused by NEC, he underwent PDA ligation surgery to close the abnormal blood vessel. For Ms. Moskow and her husband Adam, the difficulty came during recovery when Jacob still couldn't be held.
"He was about the size of a Beanie Baby," Ms. Moskow said. "He was on a respirator, and my heart was crumbling because we couldn't hold him and comfort him."
But through all the tribulations, the Children's Mercy staff was "amazing," said Ms. Moskow, especially Barbara Lawson, a lactation nurse.
"She was our backbone," Ms. Moskow said. "I was a new, first-time mom with zero experience with breastfeeding, but she worked with me on positioning and provided little ideas here and there. It was a long learning experience because Jacob was so little, but it meant a lot because it was pretty much the only thing I had control over."
Jacob went home on May 27, 2012. He required a second hospitalization for treatment of a dilated bowel, but is now home again, and is "a very spunky little guy who is doing just great," Ms. Moskow said.
The Moskow's said they have made "lifelong friends" of Children's Mercy staff members and other families they met during Jacob's time in the NICU. "The staff was really supportive throughout our time at the hospital, and after," said Ms. Moskow.
Born at 24 weeks, Jacob faced a number of health complications and a lengthy stay at Children's Mercy.
Easter 2012 was the first chance Jacob's parents had to dress him in real baby clothes. "It meant a lot to us," said his mother, Andi Moskow. "It was really one of our first 'normal' baby experiences."
Jacob recently celebrated his first birthday by taking a spin in his first set of wheels, a Radio Flyer wagon.
The Moskows, Jacob, mother Andi and father Adam are all smiles, and Jacob is "doing just great," said Andi. Adam, who will graduate from nursing school this May, witnessed the highest level of pediatric care available during Jacob's time at Children's Mercy.