This is the speech I gave at the Kickoff meeting yesterday. Today they had the boys and my picture on the front page of the newspaper, however my picture was not too good. Of course I was talking so I looked stupid, oh well.
Before the boys came along, I had heard of the March of Dimes I knew they helped babies, however I didn’t know to what extent they helped them or all the research they have done. Unfortunately, I would find out the hard way. In January 2006 my husband Jimmy and I found out we were pregnant, we were excited and scared. We experienced all the normal feelings a couple feels when they learn they are to become parents. On February 28, 2006 on my first doctors visit, we found out we were having twins; we were shocked and very excited. Although, we had not thought of twins we where very happy to welcome two little ones to our family. My pregnancy progressed normally with no problems until June 23, 2006. I had been really tired that day and was feeling what I thought was the babies “balling or bunching” up. I know now that they were contractions. Fortunately, I worked in my OB’s office so I was able to be seen right away. I found out that I was in fact dilating. My greatest fear had come true. I was in pre-term labor. At 26 weeks and 3 days I knew it was way too soon for my little guys to enter the world. Sure I was excited and anxious to meet them, but I wanted to do so under better circumstances. I was immediately sent to the hospital and started on medications to stop my contractions. When it was thought that the medications might not work, I was medi-flighted to a hospital that had the capabilities and equipment to handle infants that are born pre-term. After an intense 4 days on all kinds of medications to stop contractions and labor, it appeared that the doctors and the medicine had succeeded. I was however told to expect to stay on hospitalized bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. After 10 days in the hospital it seemed that all had calmed down and it was decided that I would be sent home with strict instructions to rest and not move around much. I did this for two days, and then I noticed that one of the babies was not moving around as much. I called my OB office and was told to come in. At that visit it was found that one of the babies was very low in the birth canal and it was best to be sent back to the hospital. There I stayed for 6 more days and then again was sent home for two days on strict bed rest. On July 17, 2006 one day shy of 30 weeks, my water broke at 5:00am I was rushed to the hospital once again that was equipped for pre-term births. I was once again given medications to stop my contractions, however since my water had broken, the doctors felt it best, for my labor to continue if the medications did not work. At 10:50 that morning the contractions intensified and I was rushed to the OR to deliver. At 11:30am Kolton Wayne, twin A was born by natural delivery. Twenty-seven minuets later at 11:57 Karter James twin b was born by c-section. I did not even get to see Kolton, but they held Karter up for me to see for a few seconds before he was whisked away to do life saving procedures on him. Jimmy and I were so scared. We knew they were small but didn’t know at that point how small. Once everything calmed down and I was recovering in my room we were told that Kolton weighted 3lbs 1oz and Karter 2lb 11oz. I was unable to see them until very late that night.
After all numbing medications wore off and I was able to stand on my own I was allowed to go by wheelchair to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU to see my babies. When we arrived it was very late, we were required to remove all jewelry and scrub our hands up to our elbows with soap and hot water for 1 minute. We would have to do this each time we entered the NICU. The first baby I saw was Karter. He was very small and pink. He had a tiny diaper on him. As I looked him over I noticed that the cartilage in his ears were not completely formed yet, I had read about this in one of my many books about babies and what to expect about their growth at 30 weeks. He was hooked up to the ventilator which was breathing for him because his lungs where not yet developed enough to breath on his own. He had wires and tubes all over him and he was hooked up to a machine that would alarm if his heart rate went too low or too high, if his breathing slowed too much or if his oxygen saturation was too low or too high. Through all the tubes and wires I saw a beautiful baby boy that I was so in love with. Next I was taken to see Kolton who was in another room. He was tiny as well, but a bit bigger than his brother. He had dark hair and lots of it for such a tiny baby. I remember wondering how much he would have had, had he been born full term. He too was hooked up to a ventilator, due to his immature lungs, he also had tubes and wires all over him, but he had one thing different that Karter did not have. He also had the addition of a big lamp that was know as a bililight. This was being used because he was jaundice. He would have the light for a week or more. While on the light he had to wear goggles to protect his immature eyes. Because he was on the light for so long I rarely got to see his tiny little face for the first few weeks. Even though he was a strange blue color due to the lights, and even though he was hooked up to all the same machines as Karter I feel in love with him too. We began to affectionately call him our little monkey.
It was the next day that the doctors began to tell us of all the medications they were on and what to expect in terms of their care while in the NICU. On that day July 18, 2006 I heard of surfactant for the first time. The doctors explained to us what the medication was and how it worked and that our boys would more than likely be getting two doses of this. Later when we had the chance we researched exactly what surfactant was and what it was used for. That is when I found the March of Dimes website. I learned that surfactant, which is a soapy substance found in lungs is already present in full term babies and that when they take their first breath their lungs open up and the alveoli or tiny little air sacs stay open afterwards and are ready to receive each breath, however in pre-term infants, when they take their first breath their lungs open but with each exhale their alveoli or air sacs collapse making breathing harder and harder. This is also known as Respiratory Distress Syndrome or RDS. Both Kolton and Karter had this due to their prematurity. What surfactant did for my boys and for many, many preterm infants is it allowed their lungs to balance the pressure on the outside with the pressure on the inside of their lungs and remain open to incoming air. According to the March of Dimes website, surfactant began to be used in the 1980’s developed by Dr. T. Allen Merritt. Since its use the number of babies that die from RDS, has gone from 10,000 per year to less than 1,000. My boys fit into this statistic. My boys where saved not only by the doctors, but also by this wonderful discovery of surfactant, it literally allowed my boys to breath another day.
As the days went on we began to learn the ins and outs of the NICU. You are told up front that it is going to be an emotional roller coaster, and it is. Everyday is different, one day things are going good and the next something is not right. You began to think of each day as one step closer to going home. Karter spent 3 days on the Ventilator, Kolton spent two, and the next step after the ventilator is CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP does not breathe for you like the ventilator but it does create enough pressure when you inhale to keep your airway open. Kolton spent 2 days on CPAP and Kater spent 4 days on it. After CPAP is the nasal cannula. The nasal cannula is used to provide supplemental oxygen to a patient. Kolton spent 5 days with the cannula and at 11 days old was breathing room air on his own. Karter would stay on the cannula until he came home and after being home for one month he was able to breathe room air on his own. The boys spent 48 days in the NICU, while there both received many medications to help their heart rate regulate, head ultrasounds to check for brain bleeds, many X-rays to check their heart and other organs, blood transfusions due to low blood counts and the inability of their little bodies to keep up. Light therapy for Jaundice, heel sticks to check their blood gasses. Numerous IV’s in the head, legs and arms and a scar for each of those sticks.
This has all been as described to us by the nurses in the NICU, a rollercoaster of a ride, but the end result are two beautiful boys, that to this date have no lasting effects from their prematurity, they are healthy and thriving and we are so thankful, thankful to the March of Dimes for all their research, thankful for the Doctors and nurses that played a part in their survival and thankful to you, those who donate and volunteer in the quest to save babies.
Thank you again.