My son, Rorik Christian, was born in December 2017 at 30 weeks 5 days’ gestation. My pregnancy with him was complicated from the beginning. At 8 weeks, I started bleeding heavily and was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma (SCH, a type of blood clot). I was told that this was common and should resolve itself, but I continued to bleed heavily until 18 weeks. At around 12 weeks, I also started having trouble with my heart. I was having palpitations, and my heart rate often dropped to 30 to 40 beats per minute. These symptoms progressively got worse until I was continuously dizzy, lightheaded, and short of breath. I was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions and placed on bed rest until 20 weeks. At my 20-week anatomy scan, we were told that my SCH had not resolved itself and that in fact another one had appeared. We were advised to have monthly growth checks to ensure that the baby was growing properly. Weeks 20 to 26 were a breeze! I was able to return to work as a certified nursing assistant at the hospital where I would deliver, working with new moms and their newborns. At exactly 26 weeks, my water broke. I was admitted to the hospital and remained there until I delivered.
As a previous donor for Prolacta, and knowing I’d be giving birth to a premature baby, I reached out to the milk bank manager at Prolacta to find a way for my baby to receive a 100% human milk-based fortifier. I was told to reach out to them once the baby was born. After I was in the hospital for nearly 5 weeks, the decision was made to induce me due to a placental abruption (separation from the uterus). Following 5 hours of labor, baby Rorik was born. He weighed 1650 g (3 lb 10 oz). He was born encased in a blood clot larger than his body. He was whisked away to the warmer and immediately treated by the neonatologist.
I immediately contacted the Prolacta to find out what needed to be done to get Rorik the fortifier I wanted. Through a coordinated effort between Prolacta and my NICU, Rorik was able to receive the fortifier the very next day! Without Prolact+H2MF Rorik would have received a fortifier made from cow’s milk, which could have increased his risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis, a common and dangerous intestinal disease among preemies. Rorik did amazingly well in the NICU! He was off all supplemental oxygen within 12 hours of birth. He was transferred to the continuing care unit, a step above a NICU, as soon as a bed was available. He was deemed a “feeder and grower” for the duration of his stay, which was luckily only 32 days. He was discharged at 35 weeks 2 days’ postmenstrual age, weighing 5 lb 2 oz.
Today, Rorik is 16 months old and weighs a nice 20 lb! He is walking, climbing, running, and talking. He has caught up to all of his milestones and so far has no lingering effects of his prematurity. A month after coming home, we were able to transition to exclusive breastfeeding, and now, as a toddler, he is still nursing. I have no doubt that Rorik is doing so well because of Prolacta. He’s growing and thriving, and he’s been an absolute joy – the perfect addition to our family.
Having a child in the NICU is the hardest thing my family has been through. I had to juggle multiple priorities, including being with Rorik in the hospital, being home to care for my other children, pumping, eating and drinking enough to sustain my milk supply – and somewhere, in all of that, fitting in sleep. We lived an hour from the hospital and would visit Rorik at least once a day. I often traveled back and forth several times. My best advice for NICU parents is to advocate for yourself and your baby. Live each day in the moment, minute by minute. Let go of what you aren’t able to control, and focus on the things you can. Remember, when you finally take your baby home, every smile, every laugh, every milestone means so much more after seeing your child struggle.