Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sometimes, another Mom is what you need

Friends for life: Nadia and Jeremiah Bowman, Ann and Austin Kopp, Rosa and Jonathan Juarez
When Ann Kopp was six months pregnant, her doctor noticed little Austin was measuring about 4 weeks behind. She was shocked to learn that her blood pressure was sky high and that he wasn’t moving around as much as he was supposed to be.

“This was our first pregnancy so we didn’t know much about what to expect and how much he should be moving,” Ann, a Burleson resident, said.

She was admitted to Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth and placed on bed rest. Everything seemed to move so quickly after that, she said. Further testing showed high levels of protein in her urine which meant her kidneys were shutting down. Staying pregnant meant big risks for both Mom and baby, so four days after being admitted she was scheduled for a C-section delivery.  

Austin was delivered weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces, on September 26 of 2010, and was placed in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

“I stopped working as a dental assistant, so I was able to visit him every single day, coming in as early as I could and staying as late as I could,” she said. “The nurses there became like family.”

The nurses weren’t the only ones -- during Austin’s three-month stay, four other preemie Moms coming early, staying late, and dealing with an emotional, unpredicted situation found hope and support within Ann and one another.

“I remember walking in and just bawling during one of those really bad days,” said Nadia Bowman, whose son Jeremiah was born at 25 weeks and stayed in the NICU at the same time as Austin. “Ann got me a onesie and a card written like Austin was talking to Jeremiah, saying: ‘I can’t wait to run and play with you.’ I really needed that. It kept me going to have other Moms who know what I was going through.”

Austin was able to go home a week before Christmas when he reached 4 pounds, just one day after his original due date. The group of women has kept in touch with one another through Facebook and text messaging, and they participated in the March of Dimes March for Babies together this year. Ann said it has been helpful to compare developmental milestones with her new Mom friends since preemies follow a different developmental track than babies born on time. For example, Rosa Juarez, whose son Jonathan stayed in the same room as Austin, was a big source of support for Ann.

"Rosa was a big help to me when the boys were in the same room because we were able to talk during our visits and because Jonathan would hit milestones first and it gave me a chance to see what was next for Austin," Ann said. "It was such an encouragement to me and my husband to see that!"

Though he's behind on things like walking and talking, Austin is really healthy and a very, very curious kid -- with lifelong friends, just like Mom.

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