HDM Foundation: So, tell us about Ezmae’s arrival into the world!

→ I had a healthy full-term baby in February 2015, so Ezmae's early arrival was a real shock!  My pregnancy was going along positively, and I had no signs of any issues before going into labor.  We found out later that there was a bacterial infection in the amniotic fluid, and obviously Ezmae knew it wasn't a safe environment and needed to make her entrance.  In the end she saved both of us really because I had no other symptoms and the infection could have gone septic if she hadn't been born when she had.   Our homebirth plans quickly went out the window when I started having labor pains, but I was able to hold off her birth for 36 hours and get some good medicine to her, even being 7+cm dilated that whole time.  I had zero contractions when my water broke, and thankfully she was head down and engaged by then and I was able to have a natural birth.

HDM Foundation:  What was Ezmae’s gestation and birth weight?

→ Ezmae was born at 1:17am on October 14, 2017 at 24 weeks and 1-day gestation.  She weighed 681g (1.5 pounds) and was 11 inches long.  She was the tiniest, yet most perfect human we'd ever seen, and she came out kicking and waving her arms, telling us she was ready to fight!  The moment was so heart-wrenching and scary, but so wonderful all at once, finding out we had a daughter.  Our babies came to us finally after 10 years of infertility struggles, and we had faith that determination was going to be a virtue they both possessed.

HDM Foundation:  Please describe the challenges Ezmae faced while in the NICU:

→ Being so tiny, Ezmae obviously faced lots of challenges that included chronic lung disease and a long run on the ventilator.  She had a large PDA (patent ductus arteriosus, otherwise known as a hole in her heart) that refused to close even with two rounds of medicine, and only moderately got smaller by the time we were discharged.  We were told it was extremely likely she'd still need to have the heart defect operated on at a later time, but were thankful she would be able to grow bigger before it was needed. Along with heart and lung issues she faced, she had a slight brain bleed that resolved, 2 blood transfusions, an E.coli infection, swallowing issues that restricted oral feeding, and the "most impressive" iv infiltration the attending at the time had ever seen.  That left her with a significant scar on her wrist that we like to refer to as her “Battle Wound”!  Thankfully her dad and I were able to each be there every day as we also tried to juggle the feelings of our then 2-year-old son, Essec. It was a dance of emotions as those months went by, but we tried to take it day by day as best we could.  We celebrated each little milestone and that continued to propel us forward.

 HDM Foundation:  How long was Ezmae in the NICU?

→ Ezmae was in the NICU for 139 days and came home on a beautiful Friday, in early March 2018 with the Daphne outside the hospital in full bloom. Nothing compares to walking out of the doors into the fresh air with your baby for the first time after a journey like that.  She was discharged on low flow oxygen and a feeding tube which felt slightly overwhelming, but we knew we'd get the hang of it all.  We were filled with so much gratitude and awe that we had made it, led by the strength of this little girl and the care and expertise of the amazing team of UWMC NICU nurses, doctors and therapists.

HDM Foundation:  Tell us about her triumphs:

→ Since she was discharged, Ezmae has continued to amaze us with her healing and growth.  After 6 weeks at home, she was off oxygen, her PDA had closed, and she was starting to work on oral feedings.  In July she had improved enough to remove the feeding tube for good, avoiding the possibility of a G tube, and she has absolutely thrived ever since!  It's unbelievable how fast time goes when you're not in the daily routine of the NICU!  Ezmae is now 18 months old, weighing 22.5 lbs. and is walking, talking and filled with sass!  She reminds us daily that anything is possible, and that you somehow, someway make it through whatever life presents you.

HDM Foundation:  How did you hear about the Hudson David McNeel Foundation and why do you support our mission?

→ We heard about the Hudson David McNeel Foundation from one of our nurses and we were so deeply moved by his and his brave parents story.  When it came time to celebrate Ezmae’ s 1st birthday, we reflected on how incredibly blessed we were to have her home with us, and asked friends and family to donate to the Foundation in lieu of gifts.  It feels nearly impossible to truly thank the UW Medical Center NICU for giving our daughter such a good chance at life, plus all of the kindness and care they surrounded us with.  Knowing that the Hudson David McNeel Foundation donates directly to the UW NICU provides a way for us and those who love Ezmae to give thanks for their hard work, as well as support the sweet babies that are there now and into the future.