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Monday, November 17, 2014

Nate's Story

Starting a family wasn’t easy for us.  After we learned Sophia was pregnant with our first child, our joy knew no bounds.  We committed to taking every precaution necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy.  Regular doctor appointments, eating a nutritious diet, light exercise, reducing stress – we did everything.  We also planned a “baby moon” for one last get away.  But before leaving for a few days in the sun, Sophia received a check up to make sure she and the baby were healthy.  The doctor said both were in great health and wished us a good vacation.  So at the start of Sophia’s 22nd week of pregnancy, we flew to the US Virgin Islands.

After returning home, Sophia experienced intense cramping so we scheduled a doctor’s appointment for morning.  Immediately upon examining Sophia, our doctor said words that are still hard to believe - she was having a miscarriage.  We had no warning.  None!  One minute we’re in the middle of a healthy pregnancy enjoying ourselves in the Caribbean and the next we’re losing our baby.

Sophia was admitted to INOVA Fairfax on November 4th and gave birth to our son at 12:05 am, on November 5th.  Nate was born in critical condition, weighing less than 1.5 pounds, and exactly 4 months before his due date.  Doctors immediately took Nate to the NICU and so began the longest and most painful journey of our lives. 

The doctors gave Nate less than a 50% chance of survival.  Even if he survived, Nate had a 1 in 3 probability of having a severe disability.  These are terrifying odds. 

For 125 days, Nate fought hard for his life.  Twice we watched in horror as doctor’s administered chest compressions to save his life.  Words cannot adequately describe the fear you feel watching such a horrible scene unfold right in front of your eyes. 

Nate suffered – a lot.  At two week old, he endured open-heart surgery.  Nate had tubes in his lungs and a machine to breath for him.  He withstood all sorts of poking and prodding.  We’ve never seen someone so sick fight so hard and prevail.

It was worth it, though, because after four months in the hospital, we finally brought our baby
home.  Nate is a wonderful son – he’s sweet, cares about other people, extremely funny, whip smart, amazingly curious about all things, and the love of our lives.  He makes us smile every day.

The March of Dimes helped save Nate’s life.  Nate’s immature lungs posed the greatest threat.  The doctors diagnosed Nate with respiratory distress syndrome.  The main treatment is a drug called Surfactant, which the March of Dimes helped develop by funding critical research.   The March of Dimes also cares for parents.  Sara, the NICU family support specialist, provided the emotional support inside the NICU that parents need to cope with such a stressful situation.  Without Sara’s support, our four month journey would have been even more difficult to endure. 

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