Live Event Transcripts

Spotlight on StorkNet Members . . .

Jeff and Jill Stimpson

StorkNet: Jeff, thank you for joining us tonight to talk about being a preemie dad and all those related experiences! We're looking forward to an exciting, enlightening and perhaps even humorous hour. We can say that because we've read your essays and discovered a great sense of humor in your words. StorkNet is very happy that you have agreed to join us in this chat. Welcome!

Jeff Stimpson: Thank you. I'm very pleased to be here. And Jill is standing by to observe and participate as well!

StorkNet: Fabulous! We're glad she could make it. I'm sure there will be questions specifically for her too. We'll begin with a question from Samantha . . .

Samantha: Jeff, I apologize but I'm only half way through your essays. Is Alex a year now? If you could describe that year with one word, what would it be?

Jeff Stimpson: Alex is two years and one month old. I'd describe his first year as about the hardest of my life, and I think my wife would agree.

StorkNet: Jill, Jeff's wife is here with him, so if you have questions for her be sure to include them!

Samantha: What was the hardest part about that year, Jeff?

Jeff Stimpson: Well, nobody I ever knew had gone through anything like having a baby in a hospital for his first year. To be honest, it also shook my faith in medicine and hospitals. After a while you got the idea they weren't always on your side. Alex spent the first 13 months of his life in hospitals. He did come home for a week, but had to go back in very bad circumstances. He was also three months premature to start.

JenniferT: Hi Jeff. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. My daughter Grace was born at 31.5 weeks, weighed 3.5 pounds and spent just 31 days in NICU. What an ordeal that was . . . and then to read your essays. What an amazing tale! Thank you for putting it into words for StorkNet.

Jeff Stimpson: It's been very helpful for me to have the outlet, Jennifer. StorkNet was the first place to take the essays, and I'm very grateful. A lot of parents say to me that whatever they went through was minor compared with what Jill and I went through. They shouldn't think that. Every tough situation as a parent is just plain tough.

JenniferT: Amen! Thank you for your positive attitude, though!

Jeff Stimpson: I also think that's where the Internet has helped us tremendously. I don't know how either of us could have got through this without the people we've "met" online.

JenniferT: I felt . . . feel . . . the same way.

Rosy: Hi Jeff! It's Rosy M from Alabama (aka Drew's mom). Is Alex fully recovered from the surgery?

Jeff Stimpson: Hi Rosy. By surgery, do you mean the removal of the J tube?

Rosy: Yes.

Jeff Stimpson: Yes. Oh yes. And he wants to type right now, and HE SHOULD BE IN BED!

Jeff Stimpson: He did have an infection at the site right after the surgery but we gave him antibiotics. The surgery was June 16th. We expected he'd be in there a week, but he came home in three days. He's very strong.

Rosy: LOL! Drew is getting a neb treatment from my Jeff . . . should be in bed too!

Rosy: I am glad he is better from the infection.

Jeff Stimpson: Our concern now is his eating.

Rosy: That's our problem with Drew, Jeff.

Jeff Stimpson: Weight gain is a big issue for Alex. He weighed 21 ounces when he was born, and he now weighs 20 pounds.

Jeff Stimpson: He must keep gaining weight to get over the BPD, or lung damage he suffered in the hospital in his very early days on the vent.

Jeff Stimpson: We had a feeding tube from June 1999 to June of this year, but we stopped using it after a while. For those of you who are not familiar with this, BPD is basically scarring on the inside of a baby's lungs, caused by the raw oxygen from the vent. The baby has to grow to replace the scar tissue so oxygen from the air he breathes in will be taken into the blood. That's why Alex is on home oxygen.

Rosy: Drew weighed 27 ounces and is also 20 pounds, also has BPD.

StorkNet: Rosy, how old is Drew now?

Rosy: Drew is 21 months old now.

Jeff Stimpson: Jill says the normal weight for a two year old is about 30 pounds.

Jeff Stimpson: Rosy, is Drew on oxygen?

Rosy: He was until April.

FBeeler: Jill, how was your energy level and did you have any post partum depression during that year? I have just gone through 2 months of what you did and I was exhausted and so depressed. I'm better now. I'd love hear a few words from you.

Jill Stimpson: Hi, there - I was so exhausted and depressed during the time Alex was in the hospital. It took about an hour to get to the hospital so that was a couple of hours on top of visiting the baby - which felt so unnatural. I didn't think of it as postpartum depression - just sadness and fear for Alex.

FBeeler: That is understandable. How did you handle an hour ride? Did you try to sleep? Did you try to read?

Jill Stimpson: Sometimes I tried to shut my eyes. I generally could skim the paper or maybe a trashy novel!

FBeeler: Did you cry a lot? I did.

Jill Stimpson: Constantly!

Jill Stimpson: Practically from the minute I first saw him! Because he was beautiful - but very, very tiny.

FBeeler: Sorry to take up so much time. I am so glad to talk to you. How was your family? Supportive?

Jill Stimpson: No problem at all . . . supportive in mixed ways. My father was the most helpful - every Sunday he bought groceries for us. I have to admit, no one was that helpful. But my family is weird and my mother is very ill.

FBeeler: Did you even have time to cook?

Jill Stimpson: One of the hardest things was pumping my breasts and being so HUNGRY all the time! and I never wanted to cook - and had very little time to cook - though I did cook a lot, as I recall.

Jill Stimpson: I don't know how I did it.

FBeeler: I'll pass to NancyG now, I might have more questions later though. LOL Thanks, Jill. I just wanted to pass on my understanding and respect to both of you. I love your journal.

Jill Stimpson: Thank you very much, and nice to talk to you!

NancyG: Hi Jeff and Jill! Was it hard to bond with Alex? I know you loved him but what about connecting?

Jeff Stimpson: Hard to bond? No, I never wanted a kid. Ever.Then I saw him that afternoon he was born. It was weird. It was instant when I saw him that day in the isolette!

Jeff Stimpson: No never wanted children. It was all Jill's idea.

Jeff Stimpson: Now I want another one and she doesn't.

Jeff Stimpson: Well, she sort of does . . . (grin) Well, she says, too late we're having it!

NancyG: That sounds about right! LOL! I think you are both very brave and loving people and I have a lot of respect for you. Thanks!

Jeff Stimpson: We had the fertility challenge before Alex was born, too.

FBeeler: Is Jill pregnant?

miche: No pregnant woman ever expects complications to happen to them. What kind of preparation, research, reading, etc would you recommend a pregnant woman to read "just in case."

Jeff Stimpson: Yes, Jill is pregnant. And I'm going to pass this question to Jill.

Jill Stimpson: Hmmm. I certainly didn't expect anything like what happened to us - and I didn't read up on anything. I think it's a very individual choice. Some people love to read up on things that might happen. Even now (and yes, FBeeler! I am pregnant!) I am not reading anything . . . except novels!

NancyG: Congratulations!! Alex will be happy to have a little brother or sister I'm sure!

Jill Stimpson: For me, pregnancy is a matter of eating as well as you can and of course seeing a good high-risk doctor!

miche: Haha! Congratulations as well!

Jill Stimpson: Thank you! I really hope so . . . I'm so concerned about Alex being shocked.

Rosy: Congrats from Rosy and Drew too!

Jill Stimpson: Thank you!

NancyG: Oh well, I am a big sister myself so I can honestly say I wouldn't trade my baby brother for the world!

miche: I just know that when I talk to pregnant women now I always recommend they do a little bit of reading about the different things that might happen, so they are a little prepared. I had a c-section and never though it could have happened to me.

Jill Stimpson: I knew I was going to have a c-section because of a previous uterine surgery, so I was prepared for that. I think that can be difficult if it's a last-minute situation and the mom is unprepared.

miche: Yes, and I imagine suddenly giving birth to a preemie would be a million times more of a shock! I have a lot of respect for wonderful parents like both of you.

Jill Stimpson: NancyG, I hope Alex says the same thing one day about his baby brother or sister!

NancyG: I know he will. Don't worry!

Jill Stimpson: Thanks! It's hard to imagine how he'll react but most people are very reassuring.

Kaitlyn: Hi Jeff, I'm wondering how long it was before you were able to hold and handle Alex. Was it frightening to handle him because of his size? Could your family members go into ICU to visit him?

Jeff Stimpson: It was about a week or two. A nice Irish nurse took him out and handed him to me all bundled up, and of course he had the tube down his throat. I mention the nurse was Irish because in Europe they're much more into parents handling preemies. The thing that shocked me most, I guess, was hearing him breathe. He was in the isolette all the time, and up until then I'd never really heard him make any sound.

Jeff Stimpson: That holding thing was just one of the little details we picked up through the year!


Jeff Stimpson: About the Irish nurse and preemie treatment around the world. Some of it is ahead of us, some not.

Kaitlyn: Did he cry that early?

Jeff Stimpson: Alex couldn't cry because of the breathing tube down his throat.

Jeff Stimpson: At least we couldn't hear him. And of course, he was very very light.

Kaitlyn: Did you make friends with other parents who had babies in ICU?

Jeff Stimpson: Most of them left pretty quickly, compared with us. But Jill did make a couple of friends. To tell you the truth, our NICU didn't seem to encourage parents getting together.

Kaitlyn: Thank you, Jeff and Jill.

Jeff Stimpson: You're very welcome.

sue_wilska: Congratulations, Stimpsons. :)

Jeff Stimpson: Thank you.

Sue_wilska: How is Jill feeling?

Jeff Stimpson: Jill has heartburn, sore joints, and all the other normal stuff. We're kind of scared, of course. I try not to think about what we might have to decide at 20 weeks with the second one.

StorkNet: Sue, if you have a question, go right ahead.

Sue_wilska: Thanks :)

Jeff Stimpson: Jill says I forgot constipation.

Sue_wilska: and hemorrhoids ;)

katwoman59: I have a kind of personal question - how old is Jill? I'm 41 and considering a second child after a preemie.

Jeff Stimpson: katwoman, Jill is 42.

katwoman59: By the way, I'm Adelle from Preemie-L

Jeff Stimpson: Hi, Adelle!

sue_wilska: I'm suezeke - sue mom to Tyler, Zach and Hannah...

Jeff Stimpson: Jill was 40 when she got pregnant with Alex.

katwoman59: I was 40 when I got pregnant with Katy!

Ferris: What was the reason for your early delivery?

Jill Stimpson: Alex was not growing well. I wish I had gotten another second opinion but the second opinion I got confirmed he was very far behind in growth. Then I had Doppler studies done - and the baby (Alex) was apparently kicking nutrition back to the placenta.

Sue_wilska: How big was Alex when he was born?

Jill Stimpson: Alex was 21 oz at birth.

Ferris: Is this common? Does anyone know what caused this?

katwoman59: What was his gestational age?

sue_wilska: hi :) Jill - Newsweek ever get in touch with you Jeff?

Jill Stimpson: Katwoman, his gestational age was 29 weeks (according to our dates, going by our insemination!) and 27 weeks according to the hospital.

katwoman59: That's pretty small for that gestational age, isn't it? Katy was 26 weeks and weighed 26 oz.

Jill Stimpson: It is extremely small. Ferris, during this pregnancy, I found out I have a predisposition to a clotting disorder. So I'm on a drug for that. That's possibly what happened to keep Alex from growing well.

Ferris: Thank you Jeff, and best of luck to you and your baby!

Jeff Stimpson: Ferris: thank you very much.

Sue_wilska: Tyler (my son) was 27 weeks and 1lb 14oz.

Jeff Stimpson: Sue: This is Jeff again. No, I never heard from Newsweek, but I thank you for the idea. I'll take any ideas I can get. :)

Rosy: Is Alex walking unassisted?

Jeff Stimpson: Rosy, yes . . . Alex is walking a lot more than crawling. He bends over and stands upright again and in general is very much on the move.

Rosy: That is great! Drew is still having problems walking.

Sue_wilska: Now let the fun begins :) - perpetual motion - Tyler doesn't stop . . .

Jeff Stimpson: Alex is still kind of stumbly and falling. He keeps getting up though.

Jeff Stimpson: Sue: yes, that's exactly what one of the doctors, who hadn't seen Alex in a while, said about three months ago!

sue_wilska: How old is Drew, Rosy?

Rosy: Drew is 21 months old, Sue.

Sue_wilska: My kids (full term & Ty) all walked at such different times.

momntransit: I've just started reading Jeff's essays!

sue_wilska: I love Jeff's essays. My sister read them all too.

StorkNet: We love them too, Sue!

Rosy: They are wonderful aren't they?

StorkNet: This has been a very fun and interesting hour. Jeff and Jill we thank you both for being with us and sharing the details of your personal journey with Alex. We admire your positive attitudes and congratulate you on your current pregnancy! Best of luck, stay healthy and happy. And let's do this again!

NancyG: Yes thanks for sharing! Best of luck!

Rosy: Thanks for sharing!!

sue_wilska: I wish I would have turned on the computer sooner - I am so happy for all of you.

katwoman59: I'll see you on Preemie-L!

Jeff and Jill Stimpson: We enjoyed this very much and we'd like to do it again soon! Goodnight, everyone and thank you for joining us!

StorkNet: Thanks and goodnight, everyone.

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