Pledge for Preemies

 In June, the Planet Subaru team and our friends and customers donated over $5,000 in cash and supplies to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Newborn Services Fund.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  The proceeds will help families pay for unexpected expenses including gas, food, and lodging necessary to visit their premature babies often.  If you would like to donate, you can still do so here.  Planet just welcomed two preemies to the family...General Manager Dale Lathrop and his wife Erica just spent months in the BIDMC NICU, and now Hunter and Teagan are happy and healthy at home. 
 

   



Read about the Lathrops' experience:

 
Hunter shortly after birth
 
Teagan shortly after birth, illuminated by a photo-therapy light

It was our time.

When we finally got the news that we had patiently waited for after two years of trying that we were pregnant, we were overwhelmed with joy. Shortly after that, we found out that not only were we lucky enough to be pregnant with one, but that the world had blessed us with two! Immediately our minds wandered to picking out names, decorating a nursery, sleepless nights, family adventures, and little newborn onesies. Little did we know at 27 weeks and 3 days pregnant when the ultrasound tech got a little quieter and had to bring the doctor into the room on a routine visit, the rest of our pregnancy that had been pretty easy thus far, would be turned upside down. 

Our every other month appointments to check in on the pregnancy became every other day and instead of hearing heartbeats and seeing our little love bugs on the screen we heard words like insufficient & reverse diastolic flow, IUGR, doppler, and prematurity. Our vision of bringing home two healthy babies and betting on whether they would be born in February or March was now overcome with fear while trying to wrap our heads around possibly giving birth in December or January. We heard "your babies will survive," but there wasn't any way to guarantee what type of life they would live since they were going to be born so early. Rather than meeting with our OB to decide on a birth plan and touring the hospital prior to going into labor- we scheduled a meeting with the Chief of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Neonatology Unit to help mentally prepare for the possibility of having 29 week old premature twins. 

 

So there we sat, stunned. We were whisked away to immediately get our first round of steroid shots to increase the odds of our babies lungs developing as much as they could before they needed to be born. We were told to go home and pack a hospital bag and be prepared to be admitted to the hospital until birth. And there we were. Our lives were changed. We took a few days, let that information sink in and decided to figure out how we could keep these babies on the inside for as long as we were able. 

 

On December 18th 2016, I walked into the hospital at 28 + 6 days pregnant and it was time.

 

It was time to start the long journey of bed rest and to focus on keeping these babies in for as long as we could. The only advice was to "stay positive, & drink water." So, that is what we decided to do. Instead of enjoying our last Christmas and New Years as a couple at home taking in all the excitement of what was to come- we stayed in an 8x10 foot hospital room, monitored 3 times a day for sometimes up to 2 hours at a time, praying with all that we had that today wasn't the day, that our babies would be born. For years we wanted these babies so badly but for now, we wanted nothing more, but for them to stay in.

 

Every day we woke up in the hospital was another day that our little love bugs could grow and develop on the inside. Every time these babies passed their daily monitoring tests, doctors were shocked. They couldn't believe that they were fighting on the inside just as much as we were fighting on the outside. We stayed as positive as we could, all while knowing that the earlier these babies were born, the higher the risk was for developmental delays, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness and more. We chose not to think about that. We knew the risks, but this was out of our hands, and we chose to be positive.

 

January 3rd, 31 weeks pregnant, our doctor came into our room, held my hand, and said, "it's time, it's time to deliver your babies." The day we gave birth was supposed to be this joyous occasion of excitement, and eagerness. Our baby's birth day was filled with fear, guilt, and uneasiness. We allowed ourselves to take an hour to go back to our hospital room, have a good cry and attempt to pull It together. It was time to be strong. 

 

As I got myself into the shower with tears streaming down my face I gave myself a good pep talk. As I washed my body with surgical soap to prep for the caesarian section that I didn't have a choice but to have, I told myself it's time. It's time to be strong for the two little ones that have worked so hard to grow on the inside. Doctors told us we wouldn't make it past 29 weeks and here we were at 31. It was time to let medical professionals intervene and take care of them on the outside.

 

Before my team of delivery & NICU doctors came into the delivery room, I sat there on the table, with no one other than the doctor that I was lucky enough to have deliver my babies. Tears welled up as I sat there looking around thinking about all that was about to happen. She gave me a hug and asked me how informed I wanted to be during the entire procedure. I told her I wanted to know exactly what was going on every step of the way. She told me the risks as I let the tears fall. She told me, "your babies will not cry, and you need to be prepared for that." I was told these difficult things to help keep my body from having any panic attacks. Once I gave the "okay," we began. The room swarmed with 5-6 NICU respiratory therapists, nurses & doctors for each child, 5-6 delivery doctors for me, and 2 anesthesiologists. I became numb, both physically and mentally. I was walked through everything that happened, and as my daughter was born at 3:16PM on a Tuesday, miraculously I heard the most beautiful cry, and that moment, time stood still. Two minutes later, my son was brought into the world, and immediately placed on a breathing machine. Both children were brought to my face so I could give them a kiss and as of 3:18PM we became mom and dad to 3.5 & 2.5lbs of perfection, with full heads of hair and a fight like I have never seen before.

 

And then we were parents. 


Not only did we become parents on January 3, 2017- we became a part of a community. Prior to going through this experience we had no idea what prematurity was or what it meant. We had no idea that having 31 week old babies meant long days and nights in a hospital room. It meant spending our maternity leave driving to and from Boston daily. We also had to learn what was best for babies at that stage of development. Sometimes all we could do was place a hand on them, and that was our time together for that day. Taking them in and out of their incubator was a process. As parents we were we would sit on a chair, helpless as we watched the NICU nurses ever so carefully take them out of their isolate, while making sure all of the wires they were hooked up to were attached appropriately and hand them to us. There were many days that progressed forward nicely, there were many days that they took two steps back. There were many hard days where we tried to hold back the tears of disappointment that we weren't getting to experience the birth of our children naturally, but then there came a time where we learned acceptance that this was the best path for us. Our babies best chance of life was to be taken care of on the outside rather than in. It was time to accept our place as a NICU parent. 

 

Once we embraced the joy of becoming NICU parents, we were able to realize so many of the positives that came from it. Yes, we experienced all of our babies first milestones in the confines of a hospital room. They gave us their first smile, they recognized our voices, they followed us with their eyes, they took their first bath, they had their first experience breast feeding & bottle feeding, they had their first swaddle, and they tried on their first outfits! We also were able to celebrate milestones that

only NICU babies get to celebrate: their first time off CPAP, their first day off 02, their first time they came off their nasal cannula, the first time they took their NG tube out. We celebrated poops, and respiratory stats daily. We celebrated getting through a night without a SPELL and gaining weight. A "SPELL" is when your baby forgets to breathe because the brain stem is not fully developed. We celebrated the day that we no longer needed respiratory support doctors in our room. We learned how to change diapers, give baths, feed, handle the children, and took advice from nurses who have been doing this for decades. We had built in babysitters for the first few months of our babies lives. We knew it was going to be challenging when we were given the "okay" to leave, but we knew nothing would be more challenging than the mental & physical challenge of being a NICU parent. Not only is it physically demanding, but learning to handle the mental toll of being a NICU parent was the hardest thing we have ever had to go through in our entire lives.

 

April 10th, 2017 it was finally time to say goodbye. Leaving the NICU was an experience I will never forget. It was hard to leave the staff that became our family. It was hard to leave the place we called our second home for 97 days. However, the first time I was able to take our son & daughter out of the room they called home for so long, was one of the most emotional days I have ever experienced. They were no longer attached to the wall. They could experience the outside, the sun, the air and most importantly their new home. 

 

After 25 days in antepartum and 97 days in the NICU, it was time to start our journey as a family at home. This experience wasn't what we imagined it would be, and wasn't at all what we wanted, but it was the hand we were given and we now have a story that is ours, that we can share, and that we can look back on for years.  Every NICU journey is different, and we are so very blessed and lucky that out of all of the highs and lows of our experience, we have the most incredible, amazing and inspiring children out of it. We didn't get to experience a third trimester, a maternity shoot, or buy those newborn onesies we dreamed about, but we did get to take advantage of the best form of care for our babies as possible. Although the road was different, we still got to put our dream nursery together, we still got to pick our names, we are still planning many family adventures, and instead of newborn onesies, we are enjoying outfits in size 0-3. Not a day goes by when I don't stop and take a minute to think about the road we came from, the road we are on now, and the path we will choose to take in the future and all of it is because of the experience we had at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. This hospital, and their staff gave us faith and hope on the toughest of days, and literally saved our children's lives. There won't ever be words that could possibly express the gratitude we have for the BIDMC, and we look forward to reuniting Hunter & Teagan to the doctors and nurses that we have all come to love.

 

For now, it's time. It's time to start our next story. It's time to enjoy the smiles, the giggles, the hugs, the tears, the milestones, and the new adventures.  I look back fondly on our obstacles, and it has changed me for the better. Looking at these two faces, makes it hard to believe we went through what we did, but it also reminds me of the strength I was able to find on the darkest of days. We prayed every day of those long 97 days in the NICU that our babies would grow and gain weight, but now that we are all home and under one roof, I pray that time slows down. I want to cherish all of these moments because this is my time. This is our time. This is our story.