Birth Stories Featuring Kim; Raising Awareness about HELLP Syndrome
It’s #FriendFriday!!! This week I’m sharing a birth story from my friend Kim Meeks. She and her husband, George, have had an incredible journey with her daughter. Mary Farris was born at 25 weeks gestation, 15 full weeks premature. Kim shares her story here:
It was a normal pregnancy for the first 6 months. My husband and I were thrilled about expecting our first (and only) child. We found out at 22 weeks that we would be having a girl. We were unaware, however, that she would be born 3 weeks later.
On May 25, 2008, I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, a rare and possibly fatal form of pre-eclampsia. I was taken by ambulance from our local hospital to a St. Thomas Midtown. My husband was told that an emergency c-section was necessary to save not only my life, but to attempt to save the life of our unborn child. Mary Farris was born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 lb. and 3oz. She was born with a birth defect called choanal atresia. She had no openings in the back part of her nose, and was unable to breathe on her own. We were finally able to hold her at 54 days of age. After 3 months on a ventilator, she pulled out the tube herself and began to breathe through her mouth. After 148 days, Mary Farris was discharged from the NICU. We hoped and prayed for the best life she could have, keeping in mind that having a “normal” child was highly unlikely.
She had to have a g-tube placed for nutrition related to her defect, as her mouth was her only airway. Mary Farris was primarily tube fed until age 3 ½. She required physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy. She attended a special education preschool where she could continue to receive some of these services during the school day. She also had the benefit of 3 years of early intervention services. In her first 5 years, she had 11 surgeries.
Last year, Mary Farris was transferred to a regular kindergarten class and is keeping up with her peers now in 1st grade. She met all of her goals in physical therapy and was discharged, and they plan on meeting occupational therapy goals soon. She is now 6 years old. We felt after all of her days in the hospital, that she is partly their baby, too. For this reason, we celebrate her birthday with the NICU staff every year. Mary Farris says she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
Through all of the experiences with Mary Farris, I have become very active in the g-tube community helping other parents adapt to their new “norm”. I also was inspired by our experience in the NICU to go back to school. I will graduate from nursing school in December. Our story will come full circle when I begin my job as a NICU nurse.