Erica – 31 weeks
We were so happy when my doctor confirmed that we were having another baby. We began planning our future as a family of four. However, life took a difficult turn early in my pregnancy, one of many that we would soon discover. We found out that our baby had a birth defect known as an Omphalocele and that her intestines, liver and part of her stomach were developing outside of her body. This news was extremely hard to hear, but we prepared ourselves as best we could to handle this condition. We knew it would be difficult, but we felt we were ready. My doctor recommended that we deliver at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York-Presbyterian in Manhattan. Despite the long distance from home, this was the hospital that specialized in these cases. So, that is where we went. Our next hurdle came after Thanksgiving, when I started to bleed. I was admitted to the hospital with the hope that it would stop. Thankfully the bleeding stopped and I was released. On December 10, 2011, I was re-admitted and placed on permanent bed rest. I found out that I had placenta previa and my bleeding wasn’t stopping. I was terrified.
Nothing could have prepared us for what came next. A week later, on December 18th, our beautiful baby girl, Erica, was born prematurely at 31 weeks gestation, weighing 3 lbs. 15 oz. She was placed on a ventilator and had her first of many surgeries on her third day of life. At 2 weeks old, the doctors felt that she was ready for closure surgery (the organs were placed back in her body and her stomach muscles were connected). Later that evening we got the horrific call that the surgery was not a success, her organs were failing and she needed to be opened up again. It was a very rocky road to recovery, but after 3 months she was doing much better and breathing with little assistance. Her wound was healing. Then, in March, Erica came down with a serious condition called aspiration pneumonia. This took a toll on her lungs and she was put back on the vents to help her breathe. In May, she had another surgery, a tracheotomy, to open her windpipe and she also had a tube put in. Erica fought hard to overcome these surgeries and adapt to the trach. We were blessed to be able to be there for Erica every day.
After such an overwhelming NICU experience, we were finally able to bring Erica home on August 7th. She was 7 ½ months old. Erica is doing really well at home and seems much happier. Hailey’s Hope Foundation was there for us from the start of our NICU journey, emotionally and financially. They helped us get through this extremely difficult time. We cannot thank them enough.