Meet Rhett Colton, our August Mighty Bee! Read the interview below to learn more about Rhett’s story from his parents!
Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us how you learned about the pregnancy and your initial reaction? After trying for years to get pregnant I finally got a positive pregnancy test! Instant excitement and anxiousness came over me. I was already so in love with this miracle growing inside of me.
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? About 3-4 months into my pregnancy I was having issues with elevated blood pressure. At about 5-6 months pregnant, I was sent to a specialist after blood pressure medication didn’t help as much as we wanted to. The specialist noticed that Rhett was very small and had restricted blood flow to his cord- he wasn’t getting all the nutrients he needed to grow, as a result he suffered from IUGR. I was about 25-26 weeks at this point and she told me I was getting sent to Charlotte maternal fetal by the hospital for another look. The news was not good. I was going to have to give birth earlier than I expected. I was sent home not knowing what to expect. About a week later- I started to bleed heavily. Instant fear and panic set in. I thought I was losing my baby. I called my DR who told me to go straight to Presbyterian hospital. My blood pressure was through the roof (199/140’ish) and they admitted me instantly.
Can you share what you are comfortable with on the delivery of your baby? After a couple days in the hospital being closely monitored it was discovered I had a placenta abruption. I needed a C-section. I remember everything in slow motion happening around me. I couldn’t believe this was happening. All I could do was pray, and I did. I heard a little cry as soon as he was born and it was the most beautiful sound. 1 lb 9 oz Rhett Easton was born! He was rushed to the nicu where this crazy journey began. Once I was able to see Rhett I was wheeled in and saw this tiny, no bigger than a iPhone newborn that was fighting hard to survive. I was so in love- but terrified. I’d never seen a nicu and had no idea what was about to happen next. All the nurses and Dr’s were very comforting and answered every question thoroughly and compassionately. Two weeks later to the day, I got to hold my baby. What a rush of emotions! Instant tears of happiness- it was hard to watch this tiny miracle hooked up to a ventilator with wires, tubes, iv’s all over his body. I knew he was exactly where he needed to be but as a mother its just heart wrenching. I felt it was my fault that my body failed him. I was heartbroken this was happening to my child.
What was the scariest day for you in the NICU? The scariest day in the nicu for me was when Rhett was having issues with his bowels. He couldn’t go- the drs and nurses were very concerned they would have to operate on this already fragile baby. Finally things started to get better and Rhett was gaining weight and doing everything he was supposed to be doing.
What was the biggest challenge that you had to face for Rhett when you went home? Finally after 106 days- Rhett was eating, gaining weight, breathing on his own and weighed a whopping 5 lb 12 oz. He was able to come home! Best day ever! He came home on a apnea monitor which gave me quite a few scares at first. I didn’t allow visitors as it was November (RSV/flu season) and I stayed in isolation for the first two winters with him. I only brought him out for dr appointments. I was so terrified of another hospital stay that I made sure to follow every single step the nurses and drs told me to do.
What does a typical day with Rhett look like now? Rhett turned 3 in July- he is wild and full of energy. He’s a little behind speech wise so we enrolled him in preschool. He’s absolutely loving it and playing with other children. I’m prepared for a constant runny nose now, after 3 years of avoiding germs. We play outside a lot, he’s a awesome swimmer, he helps me with our dogs and chickens. He loves trucks and tractors. He’s all boy!
Tell us about the doctors and nurses that took care of Rhett were they your best advocates? I look back at our 3 and a half month nicu stay and it seems like yesterday still. I swear I have nightmares of the beeps still. I know we couldn’t have gone through all we did without the constant support of our nurses. I knew my baby was being loved on and taken care of when I wasn’t able to be there.
Any advice you would give another family going through the process? Anything that really helped you get through the experience? If I were to offer any advice to nicu parents, it would be ‘just keep swimming’. Take it one day at a time and know that this will get better. It’s a scary time but you are not alone in this.