Today’s blog post was written by Tim Spillane, a grandparent who has dealt with extreme prematurity. His daughter, Anne, became pregnant with quadruplets, and from the start, the family knew they’d be facing the trials of severe prematurity. Yet even so, foreknowledge doesn’t always prepare moms, dads, grandparents, and care providers for the realities of extreme prematurity. Here’s the first part of Tim’s story:
My daughter forwarded me the info about the summits which Graham’s Foundation is holding this fall around the country and I would like to take part. Although not a parent of a preemie myself, I am the grandfather of four micro-preemies born in April 2010. It was a long, hard road – but I don’t need to tell you or your co-workers at Graham’s Foundation that. You hear it and deal with it every day. We hope that others can find great hope and joy in our story:
While my wife and I knew that our daughter, Anne, was expecting quads – and that it was inevitable that they would be born prematurely – none of us were ready for the trauma that ensued when Anne had to deliver her babies at 24 weeks / 5 days. We were not sure that our daughter would survive the ordeal (she had severe preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome and significant pulmonary edema) and, sadly, there was not a lot of hope that her babies would live at all.
But, in fact, all have survived and, despite the tremendous difficulties each of the babies endured, all are thriving. God has been good to my family and we are blessed today with four happy and healthy babies: Timmy, Edda Grace, Lily Joy and Wyatt. They were all under one and a half pounds when born, and ran into trouble right away: they each had brain bleeds, PDA, ROP, severe respiratory problems… the whole nine yards.
We very nearly lost both of the boys (Timmy almost died after heart surgery to close his PDA when, subsequently, his bowels perforated), and Wyatt developed hydrocephalus which required repeated brain taps to reduce fluid build-up in his brain which led to his contracting bacterial meningitis (pretty much a death sentence for so tiny a child w/no immune system to speak of).
We first found out about Graham’s Foundation when my wife and I returned home to Philadelphia from the NICU where the ordeal for Anne and her babies began (our daughter and her husband live in San Antonio, TX where she is an Army doctor; her babies were delivered and cared for at Wilford Hall, Lackland AFB). We felt so helpless at the time.
Knowing nothing about what the road ahead would be like for our daughter and grandchildren, my wife went on a frantic internet search to find help. That’s how we found you guys. Knowing that others had gone through similar circumstances and were there to help made so much difference for us. We ordered care packages for the babies and I determined to wear my “Hope-Resilience-Miracles” bracelet until the last of the babies came home.