Melissa, Kyle and baby David

Melissa, Kyle and baby David

Our son David was born three months before his due date because I had a condition known as placenta previa. I went into pre-term labor and with every contraction, David’s heart rate dropped, creating a potentially deadly situation for him. After three days and two nights of this, he was born at 5:30 p.m. on January 28, weighing only 2 pounds, 11 ounces and measuring 15 ¼ inches long.

The scariest aspect of David’s early arrival was the fact that we were marching into the unknown, as David’s dad, Kyle, put it. We didn’t know if he would live or not, whether he would be healthy or have a lot of problems, how long he would have to be in the hospital or how we would cope in the meantime.

Very long days

Kyle had to return to work and I had to focus on my recovery. We made the 90-minute commute to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee every day. Kyle woke up at 5:30 a.m., drove 40 minutes to Fond du Lac where he worked from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then (depending on whether I could get a ride to his office) we either drove straight to Milwaukee or he picked me up at home. We spent about three hours each evening with David.

As a mother, it was very difficult only being able to spend a few hours a day with my baby and not being able to bring him home. I cried every night for the first couple weeks at home.

Since David arrived early, his room wasn’t finished, so his stay in the NICU bought us some time (at least on the weekends) to get the majority of his room finished.

Those were very long days. Kyle was very stressed and running on fumes and I was battling post-pregnancy hormones along with a mild case of the baby blues. Most days I didn’t want to get out of bed, but what kept me going was knowing I had to pump milk for my little guy and wanting to see him.

We knew he was in the best hands

We didn’t worry whether he was receiving adequate care because he was in the #1 NICU in the nation, and we saw that the doctors and nurses took their jobs very seriously and loved caring for those tiny patients of theirs. We took comfort in knowing he was in the hands of caring, compassionate experts who were there to save lives, and that’s what we appreciated the most.

We never imagined our little David would be featured in TIME magazine to illustrate the life-saving measures doctors and caregivers take to save these fragile babies.

For Mother’s Day, I organized a brunch at our home. My grandmother from California was visiting, so along with her I invited my mom, grandma, Kyle’s mom, sister, brother-in-law and their son. We don’t have any set plans yet for Father’s Day, but I have a few surprises up my sleeve.

– Melissa Hilger, mom, guest blogger


Delivering a preemie: The story behind our Time magazine story — 2 Comments

  1. We had just started receiving Time magazine the end of May. When the June 2 issue arrived I couldn’t wait to read the story about saving preemies. We also had a preemie born June 28, 1975. Our son wasn’t due until Sep. 16! The similarities were unreal- our son Adam was born between 28 & 29 weeks. (Back then ultra sounds were unheard of). He was 2 lb 11 oz and 15 in long. And was born at Milwaukee County Hospital and remained in the NICU for 7 weeks. He came home weighing 4lb 15oz. I cried the entire time I read the article and again telling my husband about it.
    Our Adam will turn 39 on Saturday and I have saved the article for him. He had less than a 50/50 survival rate back then but he made it and is a wonderful son, husband and father. I commend you for breast feeding David as I did Adam even after the Dr. Said no because they discouraged bonding back then. He was 5 wks old before I held him but the wait was worth it! He developed beautifully and there have been very few health issues through the years. He graduated from the University of Iowa and received his MBA from ASU. We are very blessed to have him.
    Good luck to all of you as you enjoy your son. Rosemary Rice

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Rosemary. We really love hearing those kinds of things! — Neal