The Carter Family

The Carter Family

Julie and Nick Carter share Kellan and Elodie’s NICU story.

After three surgeries and losing an ovary due to endometriosis, we were thrilled to find out that our first IVF treatment was a success. We were having twins! This was meant to be and the outcome could not have been more perfect.

It was a horrible pregnancy. Full of nausea, vomiting, blood pressure and heart rate issues and an early hospital admission around 12 weeks due to bilateral blood clots in my legs.

At an OB visit at 22 weeks on Jan 12, I complained of severe cramping and even stated, “I wouldn’t know the difference in a cramp and preterm labor.”

A week later, at 23 weeks, 5 days, while at our perinatologist visit, I was sent to the hospital due to my cervix funneling and was told I may need a cerclage to help keep my cervix closed. I was immediately admitted, given a steroid shot and started on anti-contraction medication. I told myself I would be happy to lay there on bed rest for 3 months and prayed and prayed to “just keep the babies inside.” This was my mantra.

After our initial neonatologist visit about viability, our main goal was to just make it to 28 weeks. But after complaining of cramps and mucus all day at 25 weeks, 4 days, I was suddenly 10 centimeters dilated and having an emergency C-section with general anesthesia due to the blood clot medication I was taking. It was a very terrifying feeling to not know what you’re going to be told about the condition of your babies when you wake up.

At 7:01 a.m., our beautiful baby boy, Kellan, was born at 1 pound, 13 ounces. A minute later, his gorgeous little sister, Elodie, came into the world at 1 pound, 10 ounces. Their father was not able to witness their birth in the delivery room due to the anesthesia. For him, seeing Kellan and Elodie being wheeled in their incubators from the delivery room to the NICU brought mixed joy. He was mesmerized by their beauty and so proud to be a father, yet so concerned about their health as 25 weekers .

It was not long before we would witness what many term the NICU “rollercoaster.” Both Kellan and Elodie were placed on ventilators and later that evening, we would learn that Kellan was struggling with breathing on the vent and had to be given manual breaths. With a lot of help from the neonatologist and the incredible NICU staff, Kellan improved later that night to where he was gradually taking breaths with mechanical assistance.

Over the next week, we would learn that Elodie had a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) and would require medication to close the heart defect. We then discovered, to our dismay, that Kellan experienced a grade IV intraventricular hemorrhage. We were confident Kellan’s prognosis would be positive regardless of his condition and did not want to stop medical treatment.

After two unsuccessful rounds of trying to close Elodie’s PDA, she was sent to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital on Feb. 25 for surgery. Although surgery was successful, she had difficulty maintaining her blood pressure post-surgery and returned to Northside on March 1 on multiple blood pressure medications. With doctors concerned about Elodie’s condition, we received word on March 2 that Kellan had developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis, known as NEC. This came as a complete surprise to us, as earlier that day he was doing well on CPAP and Elodie was deemed “the sick one.”

In the most painful and disheartening nine hours of our lives, our beautiful son Kellan was taken from us much too soon and passed away early on the morning of March 3. We thank God we were able to be there to hold him in those last moments and to see how desperately the staff worked to try and save him. The nurses with us that night (Jenna and Susan) will never be forgotten for their kindness, patience and heart.

A few days after Angel Kellan’s passing, our sweet Elodie began to improve. Having not had any feedings for over a month, we were concerned (OK, panicked) about the possibility of her developing NEC as well once she began feeding. Over the weeks to come, Elodie showed tremendous progress with her feeds and breathing, making it to high-flow in early April, a wonderful Easter present. Known as the “pistol,” “firecracker” and “rockstar,” she finally made it to the seventh floor in mid-April and was discharged from Northside on May 20 (her great-grandmother’s birthday).

The rollercoaster continued after discharge with appointments to the gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist, opthamologist, pediatrician, surgeon and a hospitalization for her hernia, frequent lab visits, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

For a preemie in hibernation, we sure did have to go out a lot. Sometimes there were 3 appointments in a day, exhausting does not begin to describe being the parents of a preemie during and after the hospital stay. Just the thought of her pulled us through it. She is one amazing earth angel.

We cannot tell you how blessed and grateful we are to have sweet Elodie in our lives and that we were able to hold our son Kellan and know him for a month.

He had the most beautiful peaceful spirit and loved to be held by his mommy and daddy. We have no doubt that Kellan is and always will be her guiding light.

Elodie is now a kind, caring, beautiful soul who is in first grade. She is academically ahead, scoring in the superior range. She is a graceful and elegant ballerina and her favorite activity is gymnastics.

We are not sure how 2010 could be the best and yet the worst year of our lives. We feel so lucky to have our Preemie Posse that we met during our close to four-month hospital stay. No one “gets it” the way they do and we cannot thank them enough for all the times spent together.

We have watched all the children grow. We continue to cry together, laugh together and celebrate our beautiful earth and heavenly children. Thank you to all the doctors and nurses for doing what you do on a daily basis with such passion and care. Just know what you do even for a micro preemie, makes a difference

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