The Koch-Gilbert Family
Two months before our wedding, my wife started getting very sick and we were surprised to find out we were pregnant. Shortly after finding out, my wife became unable to maintain weight or function normally without being sick. She had to go on a continuous Zofran pump (medication that blocks the actions of chemicals in the body that can trigger nausea and vomiting) to help. It became so bad that at 20 or so weeks into her pregnancy, she went under anesthesia and had her gull bladder removed.
For a week after her surgery, we thought, now this is how it’s supposed to be. How quickly things turn… she started getting sick again, and even though she was healthy it turned into severe pre-eclampsia and developed into HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. We immediately went to the emergency room and the next morning, at only 24 weeks into her pregnancy, my wife gave birth to our daughter, Blake.
Blake was born weighing under a pound, with every statistic against her survival. We spent 127 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Blake underwent five intestinal surgeries and five laser eye operations. My wife and I spent countless sleepless nights wondering what the next heart monitor beep would bring or lab results would say. We struggled, fought, and took each day one step at a time.
We didn’t do it alone, we couldn’t! So many people came to our aid for comfort, words, and support. I didn’t know that the kindness everyone has shown us existed outside of movies. I have been brought to tears on several occasions over it.
We are now home but our journey is far from over. Blake’s immune system is still developing, so we only leave the house to go to doctors’ visits. There is a light at the end of the tunnel… she was extremely lucky to have survived this with no long-term effects, with many scars to show where she came from. She smiles every day and then some. We can’t tell you how grateful we are for all the support that you give. Without your help, we couldn’t have done it.
Here are just a few words for Memorial Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire.
To the NICU mommies and the Ronald McDonald House:
When Blake took a turn for the worse, there was nothing I could do to reach my wife. As hard as I tried, I wasn’t a mother. I felt hopeless as I watched her spiral into sadness. You all had your own burdens to bear, and in that, you guys came together over family dinners at the House. You were able to reach her when I could not and forged a bond that will never break. The world is stressful enough, but having family dinners, a place to call home and be steps away from our girl was such a blessing. For these things I will be forever grateful.
To the nurses, nurse practitioners, and neonatal doctors at the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital:
We would not be here to today if it were not for you. You were strapped in this roller coaster of a ride right next to us. We shared laughs, tears, and sleepless nights. You gave us our hope when we had none. You gave us support when we wanted to fall. It doesn’t feel right to just call you our nurses or our friends. Family is the only word that truly begins to feel right. Thank you for completing ours.