BENEFITING: March of Dimes Foundation
EVENT DATE: Sep 15, 2016
In late 2006, I was thrilled to discover I was expecting a baby boy in late July. My pregnancy was challenging with extreme sickness, but I didn’t anticipate any complications or have major concerns. However on May 8, 2007, I began experiencing a great deal of pain in my side and saw my ob-gyn. During this visit they discovered my blood pressure was significantly elevated, and my liver was beginning to spill protein into my urine, and I was also minimally dilated- all indicators of pre-eclampsia. I was immediately placed on hospital bed-rest, and the doctors administered the first of two steroid injections, to accelerate the development of my baby boy’s lungs. This would help give his breathing a better start after delivery. I was grateful a second shot of steroids was also given 24 hours later.
The evening of May 12, 2007, I developed further complications, and my medical team determined my pre-eclampsia had advanced to HELLP Syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy condition named after its complications- hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets. The only “cure” is immediate delivery of the baby. I was wheeled into the operating room and placed under general anesthesia. Just after midnight Sunday, May 13th, at only 30 weeks gestation, John Thomas was delivered at two pounds, five ounces. He was the perfect gift for my very first Mother’s Day. John was rushed to the NICU to be stabilized, and I was taken to recovery. Due to my HELLP Syndrome, I wasn’t allowed out of bed to visit John for several days. My doctors had started me on Magnesium Sulfate to bring down my blood pressure and prevent seizures. I spent the next three days in my hospital room, recovering from surgery and away from my baby boy. Finally, on Tuesday evening, I was finally allowed to visit the NICU.
I remember being wheeled into the NICU for the very first time- all the strange smells, and sounds- and realizing I didn’t know which room John would be in. Going up to his bed was surreal- he was so small. It seemed impossible a baby that small could be real and was mine. Looking past the wires and tubes was John, wearing a diaper barely bigger than a credit card. He was on a ventilator receiving breathing assistance. Each day John grew stronger, and I loved every opportunity I received to give him Kangaroo Care, a special skin-to-skin way of holding premature infants.
Unfortunately, on the tenth day of life, John developed necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal inflammation resulting in tissue death in his bowels. He was given high-powered antibiotics to fight the infection and moved from cpap back onto the ventilator, but four days later his bowel perforated and he was immediately transferred to the NICU at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital via ambulance. John spent the remainder of his NICU days in Iowa City, undergoing three separate surgeries to repair his bowels, resulting in a loss of 13-14 cm of intestine. While it was difficult to be away from home, I knew John was receiving the best care as he healed, learned to eat from a bottle, and gained weight. Finally, after 107 days, John was able to come home, wire and tube free!
John is now nine years old, and every struggle he has endured along the way has made every milestone, giggle, smile, and tear so much more meaningful. While he did experience some developmental delays, his therapies, preschool, and year of alternative kindergarten gave him a solid foundation. In August 2014, John was diagnosed with an unusual neurological disorder that impacts his focus and concentration, executive functioning, and fine motor skills. We are fortunate he is able to work with multiple therapists and receives extra support to be successful in school. John loves school, acting out stories, and is constantly in motion. We are grateful for his fun spirit and infectious smile every single day.
We are honored to be serving as the 2016 Signature Chefs Auction Ambassador Family, and to be giving back to an organization whose mission is inspired by all babies, those born healthy and those who need help to survive and thrive. The research conducted via the March of Dimes and the work of so many compassionate medical professionals is a wonderful partnership. I know that together we can make a difference to other families just like ours.
~Susan Bednar Blind, Martin Blind, and John Bednar