A Preemie Dad's Journey To A Healthy Baby
by Bryant Figueroa on Nov 15, 2017
Leading into one of our favorite holidays, the Baby K'tan office is placing its focus on giving thanks. To celebrate Thanksgiving, we reached out to a number of parents that we have come to know in recent months. Every individual has their own personal story, and we are grateful that they are allowing us to share their thoughts on thankfulness, babywearing and the early days of parenting. We think you'll enjoy what they have to share.
Meet Ronald Coleman...
Ronald, you are a dad of a fighting preemie. Tell us a little bit about your family’s journey.
Our journey started nearly 15 years ago when my wife, RobbieLee and I met during our freshman year in college. From the moment I saw her in the dorm cafeteria, I told my buddy that I was going to marry her. Fast forward a few years to August 9, 2008, and we were finally able to save enough money to tie the knot and start our married life together.
We always talked about having kids, but we wanted to take our time to travel and enjoy married life together. After 10 years together, we decided that it was time. As we were trying, we found out that my wife has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which made it very difficult for us to conceive. We went through four years of fertility treatments and finally found In-Vitro Maturation (IVM). Since it took us so long to conceive, we decided to implant twins. Sadly, we lost one of our sons in the first trimester, but we were told that we still had a healthy baby growing.
Aside from the heartbreak of losing one of our boys, my wife had a great first trimester. She didn't have any morning sickness and barely felt pregnant. As we moved into the second trimester, however, everything changed. She started to develop a numb spot on her belly and a sharp pain in her right side and her shoulder. Then, she went from being able to work out everyday, to getting winded if she walked more than a couple hundred steps. She mentioned it to the doctors each time that we had a checkup, but we were always told that it was normal pregnancy symptoms. Being our first, we begrudgingly accepted it. Then in June, as we were walking into our nephews birthday party, my wife fainted and we couldn't get her to wake up. We called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital. After 8 hours hooked up to an EKG and other monitors, they told us that she was just overexerted (the walk was a little more than 100 steps from our car) and sent us home.
After a lot of advocating, we were finally referred to a cardiologist and after monitoring her for an hour, they reluctantly put her on an event monitor so she could record her "episodes" (I am not sure they believed us). She had to wear the event monitor for a month before they could check the results. While waiting to hear from the cardiologist, we went in for a routine glucose screening on August 2, at 29 weeks gestation, to check for gestational diabetes. As we were talking with a new doctor about my wife's symptoms, the nurse peeked her head into the room to give her an update on her urine analysis. All the nurse said was "Protein +4." The doctor didn't really say much, but you could tell that something changed. She asked us to come with her to labor and delivery, as they needed to do some additional tests that they couldn't do in their office.
They took us to a triage room and after she changed and laid down, the entire room erupted with nurses that started hooking her up to IVs, giving her shots (steroids to help with the baby's lung development) and placing her on monitors. After about 45 minutes, the doctor came back in and told us that we were not going home until the baby was born. In addition to that we had to be to flown to another hospital, as they weren't equipped to handle a preemie. After arriving at the new hospital, we finally began to get answers.
My wife had severe Preeclampsia that was turning to HELLP. They did everything they could to keep our son in the womb, but after exactly one week, they determined that it was not going to be safe for mom or baby to hold out any longer. On August 9, 2017 (our wedding anniversary), we met our beautiful baby boy.
Reacher James was born at 30 weeks and 4 days gestation at 2lb 15oz and 16.39 inches long.
What are you most thankful for to date as a new parent?
I am most thankful for my tiny family. My amazing wife has recovered from her symptoms and we have a beautiful baby boy that we were able to take home after 42 days in the NICU.
You are running an amazing community for Preemie parents that has some lovely engagement. What do you find most rewarding about the community you have created?
Being able to have a voice as a father and parent of a preemie has been the most rewarding part of A Preemie Dad's Journey. For me, research has been an outlet to help me understand as much as I can and alleviate some of my fears. I believe that we are all scared of the unknown and when you couple that with your most precious possession, your child, we can go mad. I hope that the research and information that I am able to share will help other parents as much as it has helped me.
Recently, you entered into the role of Babywearing Dad with our Baby K’tan Baby Carrier. What benefits have you seen from that skin-to-skin care with your little one? What advice or tips for fellow babywearing parents who have preemies (or otherwise) can you offer?
From our first day in the NICU, Kangaroo care was encouraged by all of our doctors and nurses. As I was trying to better understand Kangaroo care, I found that it was a way to stabilize his heart and respiratory rates, improves oxygen saturation, better regulate his body temperature and help conserve calories.
Aside from the medical and developmental benefits, my first kangaroo care was the most amazing experience of my life. Every time I hold Reacher, I feel so close to him and my worries seem to melt away. I immediately started looking for ways to extend that feeling and I came across babywearing, which has apparently been practiced for centuries around the world. I found that I can do just about anything as I wear him in the kangaroo position and he will sleep through it all (walking, doing laundry, washing bottles, eating or just sitting there). From my research, this is because all of their primal/survival needs are met. The caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched and tasted.
What advice do you always find yourself giving fellow parents of preemies or new parents in general?
We can't control every situation and it is OK to live day-to-day, hour-to-hour and even minute-to-minute. Take the wins when you can and keep pushing forward.
Images courtesy of parents: RobbieLee and Ron Coleman
Family image courtesy: K Miller Photography