Wellness & Education

Wellness & Education

Prematurity: One Family's Fight to Be Together

As part of our 2012 fundraising campaign for the March of Dimes, one of our patients, Lori Givens, graciously shared her family's story. She and her husband Nathan live in Wilsonville with their happy, healthy sons Elijah, Mason and Hudson. They have worked to bring awareness to prematurity by fundraising for the Providence St. Vincent Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and other programs that support families with premature infants, including the March of Dimes.

Leaving the hospital with empty arms and your sweet, tiny baby fighting for his life in the NICU is not what you dreamed of when you imagined the birth of your child. It was my reality, though, and is the reality for so many other families, as well.

When we found out that we were pregnant with identical twin boys in 2007, we were overjoyed. After several miscarriages, we hoped and prayed to bring home two healthy brothers to our son, Elijah, a toddler at the time. The pregnancy was complicated but we were thankful for each day. We were devastated when one of the twins did not survive the pregnancy.

 Premature Birth - March of Dimes, Portland, Oregon
Mason Givens, now four, at the NICU at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
I was put on bed rest at 25 weeks, so you would think I would be prepared for a premature baby. The truth is, nothing can prepare you for your baby being born too early. At 32 weeks, we thought we were “out of the woods” when I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome and was induced. I remember seeing my precious 3lb 13oz baby for a brief moment before he was whisked to the NICU. On top of everything, I had complications from placenta accreta and woke up in the ICU.

I was scared and hadn’t been able to see my son, Mason, besides the brief glimpse when he was born. The kind ICU nurse found a way for me to finally see Mason late one night and wheeled me in my bed to the NICU. There were more tubes and machines to see than baby and I couldn’t hold him, but just being able to touch him for the first time made me realize he was well cared for and in the best place for him at that moment.

My husband and I visited Mason twice a day and put a picture of big brother, Elijah, next to him since he was too young to come inside the NICU. Our tiny little fighter did very well in the NICU and came home 15 days later weighing barely four pounds. He is such a miracle and we are so appreciative of the help and support we received while pregnant and after delivery.

 High Risk Obstetrics - Portland, Oregon

 Hudson, now nearly two years.

Two years later, having another premature baby was a little easier since we knew what to expect, but it’s still immensely painful to leave your baby at the hospital and not know what news you’ll get each day. My next pregnancy landed me on hospital bed rest at 30 weeks when my water broke. I made it to 32 weeks when I had an emergency c-section because the baby wasn’t moving. Our handsome Hudson stayed in the NICU for almost a month. We looked forward to each day and every visit, although having two other young children who could not come with us to the NICU made each day challenging. Thanks to the support of our family, we made it work without missing a visit.

 Givens Family - March of Dimes 2012
Nathan and Lori Givens with their boys in 2011.
I truly thank God every day for the three beautiful boys who bless our lives. Elijah is seven, Mason is four and has his twin angel, Noah, looking over him, and Hudson is 23 months. After the years of doctor visits, scares and generally trying to keep them healthy, I don’t realize how much I stare at each of them. The older two will ask me, “Mommy, why are you looking at me?” I reply, “Because I love you!” Truthfully, I still can’t believe they are here and healthy. After our family was separated during the time our babies were in the NICU, I am so thankful that we are all together.

Women's Healthcare Associates includes Northwest Perinatal Center, a group of maternal-fetal medicine specialists who manage high-risk pregnancies such as Lori's, sometimes in conjunction with a woman's primary OB/GYN. They also care for women with chronic medical conditions during pregnancy or when there are fetal medical complications.

Sources: Images - Courtesy of the Givens family. All rights reserved.

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