Mother of the Week- Kristal and Baby Clay
Please take a moment to read this touching article about a NICU mom and her little fighter, Clay.
Thank you Kristal for sharing your amazing journey with us. You are a strong woman and your family should be proud of you. -Keri
1. Did you know you were going to have pre-term labor?
Kristal responds, “No I woke up one morning at 22 weeks 6 days pregnant and had heavy bleeding. I ran to labor and delivery where contractions started immediately. I was put on medications to stop labor but at 23 weeks 1 day it started again and fast. My son, Clay, was born that night. He was 1lb 6oz and 11 1/2 inches long. We do not know why it happened. They ran tests and even sent off the placenta. They were unable to give us an answer. It is hard to accept we will never know why this happened to us.”
2. What was your first thought when you realized you were going to have your baby?
Kristal responds, “Complete fear. Everyone kept telling me viability was not till 24 weeks. They gave him a 7% chance of survival. I prepared myself for the worst. I did not know if he would be alive when he was born or how long he would make it. I was so angry with my body for not being able to stay pregnant. Clay is our rainbow baby. We were pregnant and found out at 12 weeks the baby’s heart had stopped. We were over the moon when we found out we were pregnant with Clay!” (Keri remarks- A rainbow baby is a pregnancy and birth after a loss.)
3. What was the scariest thing for you about being a Nicu mom?
Kristal responds, “Wondering if he will ever make it home. It has been 10 ½ weeks and we are nowhere near ready. He had a PDA ligation when he was just two weeks old. He also has a fungal yeast infection on the inside and outside of his body. It has reached his brain there are fungal yeast abscesses on both sides of his brain. He is on day 38 of 56 of his medication. He gets head ultrasounds every Monday. This past Monday was the FIRST where there was improvement. The abscesses on the left side of his brain are gone and the ones on the right side are moderately smaller. Because of the infection he also has seizures. He also had NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis-the bowel begins to die) a fatal disease. He had one-third of his intestines removed. He now has a colostomy [bag] which he cannot have reversed till he reaches 2000 grahams. Hearing all the monitors going off in the NICU is constantly fearing. Bradys/desats [drops in heartrate below 60 beats per minute/ blood oxygen levels] are a part of our normal day.
We waited 38 days to be able to hold him for the first time. Everyday our son is fighting for his life. He is now 2lbs 7oz at 10 ½ weeks.”
4. How did you spend Mother's Day?
Kristal responds, “I split my time with my children. I had breakfast with my older children (Chase 5, Cole 3) then headed to the NICU. I was able to hold my son and get pictures taken. I then came back home to spend more time with my older boys. I took a picture of my older sons holding a picture of Clay. It was very emotional not having my family all together.”
5. Do you have any words of hope for other Nicu moms?
Kristal responds, “Let go of the guilt. It is much easier said than done. I have spent so much time feeling guilty for my body doing this to my precious baby. I feel guilty for him needed to fight to stay alive. I feel like this is all my fault and keep asking WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?!? I finally reached out to a family support coordinator at my NICU. Through speaking with her I finally realized that sometimes bad things happen in our life and we will never understand why. The import thing is to accept it and learn and grow from the experience. I will never take another moment for granted for that moment could be the last. CELEBRATE every milestone big or super small because your premature baby is truly a miracle. I know one day my son will be towering over me and he will never believe all that he went through to be here!”
6. What are your thoughts about the mission of Sending Love and Hope?
Kristal responds, “Going through this experience has been the hardest thing I have ever been through. I kept feeling no one understands what I am going through and what I am feeling. Then I came across SENDING LOVE AND HOPE’s website. I read about Keri’s story and was overwhelmed with tears. Here is someone who has been through this experience sending out packages to uplift mother’s spirits either on bed rest or with a child in the NICU. What a special organization. I will follow Keri’s footsteps and pay it forward to other mothers. Thank you SENDING LOVE AND HOPE for reminding me just that…..there will ALWAYS be love and hope.”
Please enjoy these beautiful photos of Kristal and her 3 children.
The black and white is her very first kangaroo care, the photo with the 3 boys was taken on mothers day. They were "holding" their brother, Clay. Kristal, you look beautiful.