The Clark Family
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In 2015, we were thrilled to discover that we would be making our daughter Rowan, a big sister! While I had experienced some complications early on in the pregnancy, initial ultrasounds found that our new little one was growing just fine. On Friday, August 28th, 2015 we headed to the ob-gyn for that long-awaited 18 week ultrasound to find out if we were having a boy or a girl, and also to check the health and anatomy of our baby. When the tech began the ultrasound, I noticed that the screen appeared to be different from those first ultrasounds, and I wasn’t able to make out much of the features that she was pointing out to us. We were ecstatic to learn that we would be having a little boy, but our happiness turned to fear and worry as we went back to the exam room. My doctor confirmed that there was a large possibility that my water had broken earlier in the week, and that the ultrasound looked unusual because there was little to no amniotic fluid around our baby boy. She referred us to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to their high risk ob-gyn department, but couldn’t promise when or if I might go into labor.
We met with the high risk OB the following week, and they verified that my water did indeed break and the prognosis wasn’t good. Typically, most women will go into labor within 2 weeks or will get an infection that can sometimes lead to the death of the baby. Peter and I decided that our best option was bedrest at home until 24 weeks when our son would be considered viable. It was a very long 3 weeks at home. Not only was I very worried about infection and contractions, it was so hard to not be able to pick up and take care of Rowan. At 18 months old, she didn’t understand everything that was going on, and why mommy couldn’t tuck her into bed at night.
We made it to 24 weeks, and I settled into the mother/baby unit in Iowa City on September 18th. While I had a huge sense of relief in knowing that we were at the top hospital for premature infants, it was also scary and sad to know that I was only going to be seeing Peter and Rowan on the weekends until our son was born. I was grateful that I was able to receive steroid injections to accelerate the development of my baby boy’s lungs during my stay, as well as IV antibiotics to fight off infections and daily fetal monitoring. The days spent there were certainly bittersweet as I made myself at home the best I could.
On Wednesday, October 21, Peter and Rowan came to visit, but I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I was in premature labor at just 28 weeks. Because the baby was breach, I was wheeled back to surgery for a c-section. At 7:50pm, our son Abel William was born, weighing 2 pounds, 10 ounces. He was quickly cleaned up, and after a quick glimpse at him, he was rushed to the NICU to be stabilized, and I was taken to recovery. Peter went to visit Abel in the NICU, and came back with a picture of our son. Abel was just so small, and we were unsure what we might be facing in the hours ahead. Abel’s doctor came in to share with us that while he had received surfactant therapy to help stabilize his lungs, his heart rate dropped at the same time and they had done chest compressions for 2 minutes before it came back up. We knew then that it would be a long road ahead of us, but that our little boy was a fighter. Abel spent 76 days in the NICU battling against jaundice, respiratory distress, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and anemia, and learning to eat and grow. While it was a balance trying to juggle home, work, and hospital visits, we were grateful for each and every day.
Abel is now a year and a half year old, and is a happy, healthy little boy. He is followed by the NICU follow-up doctors, the Nephrology Department, and Pediatric Ophthalmology and receives occupational and physical therapy. While he is about 6 months delayed due to his early arrival, we feel so blessed for Abel to be doing so well, and are so grateful for his health and happiness. We are honored to be serving as the 2017 Signature Chefs Auction Ambassador Family, and are happy 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 saved our son, and we are proud to share our story to inspire others. I know that together we can help make a difference to other families just like ours.
~Megan, Peter, Rowan & Abel Clark