This is the absolute best case scenario for Kalani. She will spend a minimum of a week in intensive care, but may not need any breathing assistance, and should be able to feed from a nipple. If she has issues gaining weight or keeping her body temperature up, she may have to stay longer, but she will simply be a "grower/feeder" baby. Survival rates here are above 99 percent, and disability rates are similar to those in full term babies.
Due to the risk to Donna's life from the placenta accreta, this is the farthest along that the UAB doctors are prepared to let this pregnancy go.
33 week babies usually do very well, with a survival rate of 99 percent or more. They may need breathing support for a limited time, but can usually eat from a nipple and are simply in the NICU to grow and feed for a few weeks.
32 weeks is yet another huge milestone. Survival rate is 99 percent, and not all babies of this age will require breathing support - and those that do will often not need it for the ongoing weeks that smaller babies do. Most babies of this age can nipple feed. A few weeks in intensive care are in order, but we have largely reached the "grower/feeder" stage - that is, no major medical issues, the baby is simply here to learn to eat and to grow.
At 31 weeks, survival rate has risen to 98 percent, and disability rates are lower still. A month or two in intensive care is to be expected, but the outlook is very bright.
30 weeks is another nice milestone, as the greatest risks for brain bleeds are now behind us. Survival rate is arrround 97 percent, with disability rates continuing to drop. We are still looking at six to eight weeks in intensive care (give or take), but compared to smaller preemies, the stay should be less eventful.
At 29 weeks, surrvival rate is 96 to 97 percent, and disability and brain bleed rates cotinue to drop. A long intensive care stay is still in order.
28 weeks marks a major milestone in preemie development. Babies that make it this far have a survival rate of around 96 percent, with the rates of disabilities being far lower than in younger babies. Brain bleeds do still happen, but the instance is lower. These babies still face long intenive care stays, but tend to be more stable than extremely pre term babies.
At 27 weeks, the total survival rate is around 90 percent. Disability rates continue to drop. Brain bleed risk is still a looming factor, though, and intensive care stays are still quite long.
At 26 weeks, the survival rate is around 80 percent. Disability rates continue to drop, though the frequency of at least minor to moderate disabilities is far too large for comfort. The risk of brain bleeds is still very high, and the intensive care stay will still be long and difficult.
At 25 weeks, the survival rate is around 70 percent. While the rate of disabilities is lower than it was a week ago, it is still quite common for babies for this early to have permanent issuess, with some of these being quite severe. To survive, a baby will spend months in intensive care, with a long, hard fight ahead of them. Most babies this young will have at least one brain bleed along the way.
At 24 weeks, survival is a coin flip - only about fifty percent of babies surrvive at all, and of those, many have some level of disability. To survive at all, babies will spend months in intensive care, and will fight a roller coaster battle of upss and downs. Babies this young are all but guaranteed to deal with at least one brain bleed - if not several.
What's going on?
As some of you may know, in 2016, we had a miscarriage. Not wanting to end on a loss, we started actively trying to conceive, but that took seven months due to testosterone therapy making me infertile. Then, Gideon was born at about 33 weeks after Donna had a placental abruption. He spent nine days in the NICU, and it was a scary situation; had Donna not already been in the hospital on the hunch of her doctor, we would have likely lost them both.
I went back on testosterone and was once again infertile; Donna was exclusively breastfeeding and advancing in maternal age. Any discussions about one more baby were framed as something to talk about once Donna had been given plenty of time to heal, and how I would have to go on fertility meds again. So when Donna turned up pregnant, it was a complete shock; the doctors have put together odds of roughly one in three hundred thousand for us to have conceived. This baby is nothing short of a miracle.
It has been high stress from the beginning, however - concerns over being pregant so soon after the abruption, as well as abnormal screening results making us worry about neural tube defects. While the baby has turned out to be fine, we have discovered that Donna is suffering from placenta accreta - a life threatening condition to both her and the baby. We have been informed that they will not let her go beyond 34 weeks gestation no matter what, and that they expect it to be less than that. As a matter of fact, if Donna begins to bleed whatsoever, we are to proceed immediately to the high risk maternity ward at UAB, where the baby will be delivered right away - and Donna will undergo a hysterectomy as well as resection of up to as much as half of her bladder. I will not be allowed to attend the delivery for the first time ever, and depending on who the anesthesiologist on duty is, Donna may or may not get to meet Kalani before they put her under for the major surgery.
Every week - even every day - represents an improvement in the odds of baby Kalani to both survive and to live a normal life. Donna's calendar is now full of specialist appointments, where we hear scary things like the fact that she could need up to as much as TWENTY units of blood during the surgery (aka more than twice what your body holds). This is a stressful time, to say the least; we mark every Sunday as another milestone reached for the baby.
Best case scenario has us getting to 34 weeks. Donna will spend a night or two in the surgical intensive care unit before she gets to spend time with her baby, while Kalani will spend a week or so in neonatal intensive care before she can come home. Donna will face three plus months of difficult recovery - as well as forced menopause (unless more prayers are answered and her ovaries can be saved).
What is Placenta Accreta?
Normally, the placenta attaches to the surface of the uterus. Sometimes, however, it grows deeper into it - this is placenta accreta. There are three forms of the condition.
- Placenta Accreta is when the placenta attaches too deeply into the uterus.
- Placenta Increta is when the placenta attaches even deeper, invading the uterine muscle.
- Placenta Percreta is when the placenta grows through the wall of the uterus into the abdominal cavity, sometimes penetrating other organs such as the bladder.
Donna suffers from the absolute worst form of this condition - placenta percreta. Her placenta is basically behaving like a tumor. At the moment, there is a bulge in the uterus where it is growing out. In early December, there was perhaps enough room to slide a piece of paper between her uterus and her bladder. So it is not a matter of *if*, but rather a matter of *when* the placenta will penetrate the bladder.
The surgery tends to cause a lot of bleeding, and in cases like Donna's, roughly ten percent of women die. This bleeding is obviously risky to the baby, as well. Adding to the stress is the fact that we live a solid half hour away from the hospital in good traffic situations... and they just closed down the interstate interchage for construction for the next eigtheen months, which will clearly make it more difficult to reach the hospital in a timely manner.
How can I help?
Above all else, knowing that you care, that you are thinking of us, that you are praying for us... this means so much to us.
If you want to send a baby gift, the registries are listed below. We don't have a lot for preemie girls, and we are going to have a preemie, obviously.
We have worked with the Red Cross, and are banking blood for Donna. She is A positive, and we are open to all of the help we can get with that. If you can make it to the downtown Birmingham Red Cross between the 14th and 31st of January and are willing to donate, please let me know!
We are not the type of family to set up a GoFundMe page for things like this. But with that said, the fact of the matter is that
in a best case scenario, we are looking at a long, difficult recovery for Donna. I will have some flexibility to work from home to a degree, but that will not be extensive, and certainly won't last for the duration of her recovery period. And if we do end up in a long term intensive care situation... it's going to be very, very difficult.
To be perfectly honest, meals will be a big challenge. The kids are very self sufficent, and big brother Noah (age eleven) can make and pour Kool Aid and operate the microwave. With that said... things like gift certificates for pizza, for places like Zaxby's or Publix, and so on and so forth would be so much appreciated.
Top Wish List Items from the Registries
- Little Sister Hat, [Spearmint Love], $16
- Mud Pie Swan Convertible Gown Baby Apparel,Brown,0-3 Months, [Amazon], $27
- Hedgehogs Minky Blanket (medium size - ask for minky fabric to be pink to coordinate with flowers on print), [Etsy], $54
Olan & Donna Suddeth
12753 Alpine Circle
Lake View, AL 35111
Click any image to enlarge.
In the history of babies, Kalani is perhaps the most uncooperative child ever, at least in terms of being visible for ultrasounds. Without exception, she prefers to stay rolled into an odd little ball, with her arms in front of her face... and her legs
in the same position. It's like she is folded in half, legs straight, but placed in front of her face.
The 4D Ultrasound tech worked and worked for us to get a passsable profile. It took a team of two doctors and an ultrasound tech the better part of an hour to get Kalani to comply to let them get all of the measurements that they needed when we first went to UAB.
We have often remarked that she stays rolled up in a ball like a hedgehog, and thus, the nickname "Hedgie" was born. As a result, this little girl won't just be getting items with unicorns or kitty cats on them - no, it seems necessary that she also own items with her nickname's inspiration, the hedgehog.