Abigail, or “Abby” as most people call her, is a happy, healthy five-year-old girl. She also happens to be a former micro preemie.
At 24 weeks, 6 days, I delivered Abby by emergency c-section due to severe preeclampsia. She was just 1 pound and 3 ounces and 12 inches long. She coded on day two of life when one lung collapsed and the other partially collapsed. On day three of life, we found out that she had suffered a grade four brain bleed on the right side of her brain. Abby developed hydrocephalus slowly over the 104 days she was inpatient, but did not require surgery, only one “tap” where CSF was removed through her soft spot. She developed ROP and had laser surgery about week or so before she came home. Abby came home on multiple medications, but no equipment. She was 5 pounds and 2 ounces at discharge.
Abby’s hydrocephalus needed surgical intervention about six weeks after she came home. We were close to scheduling surgery for a VP shunt at CHKD, when we decided to get a second opinion from Children’s Hospital Boston. We flew up on a Thursday in April 2012, had an MRI and met the doctor, stayed the weekend and she had surgery on Monday. Abby had an alternative surgery to a shunt, called an ETV/CPC by Dr. Benjamin Warf.
Abby remained shunt free until July 2016 after a playground fall led to the discovery of increased ventricles. She now has a VP shunt but she doesn’t let it slow her down!
Her biggest long-term side effect pertains to her gross motor skills, and mild Cerebral Palsy, due to minor tightness in her left hamstring and ankle. She began walking at 22 months. Abby talks and plays on the same level as any other child her age, and has caught up to her peers for height and weight. In fact, she’s in the 80th percentile!