Meet Jaxson Emory, our August Mighty Bee!
Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us how you learned about the pregnancy and your initial reaction?
It’s funny I found out that I was pregnant in February 2016. I went to the doctor thinking I had a kidney or bladder infection, wrong I was pregnant! I honestly was shocked when my doctor and her nurse told me actually, thought it was a joke till they showed me the test. Then I cried! I was full of different emotions because I have PCOS, and I know the struggle many women face with trying to get pregnant. But once it sunk in, I was excited I was going to be a mom!
When did you find out that things in the pregnancy were not going perfectly? Did you know you would have to spend time in the NICU?
The middle to end of June I had to see the family doctor about something that’s when she was concerned about my 20 lbs. weight gain in 2 weeks so, it was a red flag. My blood pressure was normal at the moment, but everything changed July 4, 2016. I had no idea truly what a NICU was. I definitely didn’t think I was going to be a NICU mom, but I found out really quickly what it was like.
Can you share what you are comfortable with on the delivery of your baby?
I was admitted to Novant Hospital at 2 a.m. on July 4. My blood pressure was at stroke level and tests showed I had severe pre-eclampsia. I was rushed into labor and delivery and given a steroid shot in the hip for Jaxson’s lungs. I was overwhelming and I was scared. Luckily they got my blood pressure down, and I was moved to a hall in the maternity unit where I was going to be till I had Jaxson. The doctor told me I could be there for days, weeks or until his due date, but I wasn’t going home. We had to be monitored. On July 7 things took a turn for the worse. I was 25 weeks and 3 days pregnant. I was not feeling well, and my blood pressure wouldn’t go down with medicine. When they gave me more medicine it would go higher, and they drew some blood to check few things. It showed my liver was shutting down so, the doctor’s acted fast. I was told I was going to have an emergency c-section. I was scared and what made it worse I couldn’t have my mom with me. I was going to have to do this alone. The doctor had prepared my parents for the worse. They weren’t sure if one or both of us wouldn’t make it. I remember before I left my mom to go into the operating room I told her, “If they make you choose him or me… choose him let me go and give him a chance to live.” The operating room was packed with NICU doctors and nurses, my personal OB, another OB doctor, a general surgeon on standby to step in if things went bad for me. I just remember asking God please let me live to see my baby. I luckily didn’t have to be put under, and I got to hear things when Jaxson was born. The doctors said he was moving around like crazy and then I heard a little cry like a kitten. I cried and wanted to see him but, he had to be rushed to NICU. I was so sick before the delivery that it was 2 days before I was able to see him for the first time in the NICU.
I know you went through the NICU experience as a single mom, how hard was that for you? Were the nurses and doctors your angels through the process?
I honestly think that was the hardest 138 days of my life! I am thankful I had my parents for my support system as a single mom. It was hard not having “the other parent”. I had to make decisions sometimes without getting any advice or feedback and then you worry if you made the right choice. The NICU journey opened my eyes to so much, and I learned a lot of things. I learned I was an advocate for my son and being a micro preemie mom was not going to be easy. I prayed hard, shed tears, laughed, got frustrated, but never lost hope those 138 days. I met some great fellow NICU moms and dads. I found comfort in having them because they understood the struggles. The doctors and nurses are amazing and went above and beyond! They always would answer any questions or concerns I had and would keep me informed even when I was working they called me with updates. His primary nurses, Amy, Courtney, Ginger and Tabitha, did what I couldn’t do for him at first, and they are family to us. I say they are his “ Second Moms”. The NICU Doctors are Superheroes, and I am forever grateful for them all!
What was the scariest day for you in the NICU?
One of the many days I experienced, other than his nearly fatal lung bleed two days after birth, was when Jaxson had developed an infection. He swelled up and wasn’t urinating. I was scared and remember calling my mom at work in panic mode. They started him on antibiotics, and I waited all day for him to give a wet diaper nothing. It was late that night I left the NICU. I told Tabitha, his primary, I would call in the morning before she left to get an update. I called at 6 a.m. and he gave her a wet diaper, and few days later we were back to normal.
What was the biggest challenge that you had to face for Jaxson when you went home?
I was going to be on my own with oxygen, pulse ox machine, feeding button, feeding machine and an apnea monitor. All I can say I had very little sleep for the first 3 months until home nursing came into our lives which was a God send! Going home with all those “accessories” was very overwhelming!
Did you have a lot of fears or anxieties regarding germs once you brought your baby home?
Oh Yes! I wouldn’t let anyone come over and was worried about my parents even being in the same house. I cleaned constantly like a crazy woman and worried about the nurses coming in once that started. Clorox Wipes, Lysol Spray and Hand Sanitizer were always at arm’s reach lol!
When did you know that Jaxson would need extra therapies? What therapies is he still in now?
I knew before leaving the NICU he would need Speech Therapy for eating cause with being oxygen support suck, breathe and swallow was harder. Once we got home physical therapy was set up for us as well. Then once we completed Physical Therapy after he walked then Occupational Therapy came in to go hand and hand with Speech. We recently graduated Occupational Therapy, and we are still working with Speech Therapy. We are making progress but, still delayed on talking.
What does a typical day with Jaxson look like now?
We have come a long way in 3 years! We still have our struggles with eating and gaining weight so, we still have our mini feeding button. He eats by mouth and use that provide extra calories for Jaxson. We work with speech for an hour each week, and soon he will be getting extra services through Gaston County School System. We still have Specialist Doctors we see Pulmonologist, Gastrointestinal, Developmental and Nutritionist. Jaxson is all boy! He loves to be outside, loves books, and loves water. It’s true what they say micro preemies are feisty and fearless!!
Any advice you would give another family going through the process? Anything that really helped you get through the experience?
I would say, never give up hope! Never compare your child to another child, and that is easier said than done. These sweet miracles are different, and their journeys are going to be different. Ask questions! No question is ever too dumb or irrelevant. You are your child’s advocate, and the NICU can be very scary and intimidating. Make friends with fellow or former moms and dads. They understand the struggles and fears you’re going through. NICU photos are awesome by Krista Gantt Photography those you will forever treasure! What helped me through this journey was God, first and foremost, but the many different preemie/NICU organizations (Pierce’s Project, Bee Mighty, Preemies of the Carolinas, Ethan Strong Organization) that are amazing, and I am grateful for all they do. There are so many support groups with information and stories. You are never alone in this journey.