Alexa & Peyton's Story (Grundy)
Journey of Hope
The road through life sometimes has mountains you are unable to see over, but when you have a great navigator next to you, it lessens the uncertainty of what’s on the other side. My wife and I have lived in Morton now for about 8 years. We have beautiful twin daughters, Alexa and Peyton, that are so full of life. They are seven, and love everything about first grade at Grundy Elementary. As much as they now love learning and playing with their friends, their lives started out with a few question marks. Thankfully we had an amazing team at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois to walk with us through those uncertain first months of their lives.
In the spring of 2015, Kelsey and I were blown away by the news that we were not only going to be blessed with our first baby, but that we were going to have double the blessing! For several weeks after that first sonogram, I found myself randomly saying “Holy cow! I can’t believe we’re having twins!” After a bit, we settled into the idea that we were buying two of everything and that sleep would soon be an elusive treat. We also settled into the routine of the extra OB visits and checks that were involved with a twin pregnancy. At just 26 weeks along, one of those visits would start us down the road toward our journey through the NICU at OSF.
While at her check up, the doctor found that Kelsey was actually in preterm labor, and that if we didn’t get to hospital soon, there would be no way to stop it. This was definitely not how we had imagined starting our lives as parents! When we arrived at OSF the doctors and antepartum team jumped into action to slow things down. Through God’s grace and protection, and their skill, they were able to stop the labor. Because of the early gestation and the precariousness of the pregnancy, they wanted to keep Kelsey at the hospital so that at any further signs of labor, they could jump in and stall it again. Our first night in the hospital was fraught with fear and uncertainty, but we made it through. This was when we experienced our first interaction with the caring nature of our Children’s Hospital.
The day after our first long night, Dr. Clark, who was a neonatologist in the NICU department, came up to our new temporary home (the hospital room). She took two hours out of her very busy day to sit down with us, and let us know what to expect as potential parents of two preemie fighters in the NICU. We were blown away by her knowledge and care. This gesture of kindness helped to set our very fearful hearts at ease. She let us know that every day we could hold off delivery was critical to help the development of the babies, but when they would inevitably come, we could have confidence they were in the best possible care.
Knowing that the girls could decide to come any moment gave us so much apprehension. Waiting for the inevitable, though, turned into hours then days. God was so gracious and the days turned into weeks; four weeks to be exact! Those weeks seemed so long while living in a hospital room, yet looking back they seemed like a flash. The OSF Antepartum staff was so amazing, and they made every day that we held off labor so special! They even wheeled Kelsey’s bed to a place where we could watch the 4th of July fireworks! They took such great care of us but, finally the inevitable came. This time though, there was no stopping things.
At 30 weeks and 1 day into the pregnancy our precious bundles decided to come. If you do the math, that’s still 2 months early. Those hours of the delivery stand to this day the hardest and most stressful hours of our lives. There were so many uncertainties, and we were fearful knowing that even in the best circumstances, emergency care would be needed for the girls as soon as they came. There was such fear and emotion in that room, but despite all of it Alexa came first and Peyton came a harrowing hr later. As they came, the NICU staff were right there in the operating room waiting to jump into action. From that moment to the end of our stay, our girls received the absolute best care there was.
They were tiny, but we were blessed that as early as they were, they seemed healthy. They just needed some time to grow. Alexa weighed in at a whopping 3 lbs, and Peyton was even smaller at 2 lbs 12 oz. They were so small, and it’s hard to express the overwhelming feeling of both joy and fear that you experience when holding your baby who is that small in your arms. If you are a preemie parent, you know the feeling. The experts there at the Children’s Hospital knew not only how to care for our twins but also how to care for us as parents while we rode the NICU roller coaster.
Any parent that has lived through a stay in the NICU will tell you that it is full of ups and downs. The doctors and nurses also know this and do everything they can to help smooth out the bumps along the way. We had so many amazing nurses and doctors throughout our stay. They took such great care of our girls and looked out for us too. One of the doctors would even call us during rounds if we weren’t there, so we could just listen in and have any concerns we had answered. I think the reason so many of them care on such a personal level is several of the doctors or nurses we interacted with had their own personal NICU journeys that inspired them in their careers.
After almost two months of ups and downs in the NICU, and a couple pounds of growth, Peyton came home first with Alexa following 4 days later. All in all OSF was our home for three straight months. We were so blessed that we lived only 15 minutes from the Hospital but there were others who were much further out, and the Children’s Hospital went above and beyond to help those families with a place to stay closer to the hospital.
Our Children’s Hospital is such a fantastic organization with such caring doctors, nurses, and support staff. There is another team of people though, sometimes overlooked, who made our stay possible. It is the volunteers and supporters of all the nonprofits who donate to the Children’s hospital! Game Ball Run is one of those fantastic organizations. Over the years, Game Ball Run has raised over one million dollars to assist the Children’s Hospital in their mission. The dollars given by local companies and families have helped the Children’s Hospital make such a difference in so many family’s lives like ours. For this reason, we are forever grateful! We are grateful to the Children’s Hospital of Illinois for their incredible care, and to people like you who have donated to make such a difference in our small family’s life.
Thank you so much for helping us through our journey of hope!
Alexa, Peyton, Kelsey & Nathan