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
Thank you. I'm very pleased to be here. And Jill is standing by
to observe and participate as well!
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 . . .
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?
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.
Jill, Jeff's wife is here with him, so if you have questions for
her be sure to include them!
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.
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.
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.
Amen! Thank you for your positive attitude, though!
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.
I felt . . . feel . . . the same way.
Hi Jeff! It's Rosy M from Alabama (aka Drew's mom). Is Alex fully
recovered from the surgery?
Hi Rosy. By surgery, do you mean the removal of the J tube?
Yes. Oh yes. And he wants to type right now, and HE SHOULD BE
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
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.
Our concern now is his eating.
Rosy: That's our problem with Drew, Jeff.
Weight gain is a big issue for Alex. He weighed 21 ounces when
he was born, and he now weighs 20 pounds.
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.
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.
Drew weighed 27 ounces and is also 20 pounds, also has BPD.
Rosy, how old is Drew now?
Drew is 21 months old now.
Jill says the normal weight for a two year old is about 30 pounds.
Rosy, is Drew on oxygen?
He was until April.
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.
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.
That is understandable. How did you handle an hour ride? Did you
try to sleep? Did you try to read?
Sometimes I tried to shut my eyes. I generally could skim the
paper or maybe a trashy novel!
Did you cry a lot? I did.
Practically from the minute I first saw him! Because he was beautiful
- but very, very tiny.
Sorry to take up so much time. I am so glad to talk to you. How was your family? Supportive?
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.
Did you even have time to cook?
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.
I don't know how I did it.
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.
Thank you very much, and nice to talk to you!
Hi Jeff and Jill! Was it hard to bond with Alex? I know you loved
him but what about connecting?
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!
No never wanted children. It was all Jill's idea.
Now I want another one and she doesn't.
Well, she sort of does . . . (grin) Well, she says, too late we're
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!
We had the fertility challenge before Alex was born, too.
Is Jill pregnant?
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."
Yes, Jill is pregnant. And I'm going to pass this question to Jill.
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 . . .
Congratulations!! Alex will be happy to have a little brother
or sister I'm sure!
For me, pregnancy is a matter of eating as well as you can and
of course seeing a good high-risk doctor!
Haha! Congratulations as well!
Thank you! I really hope so . . . I'm so concerned about Alex being
Congrats from Rosy and Drew too!
Oh well, I am a big sister myself so I can honestly say I wouldn't
trade my baby brother for the world!
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.
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.
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.
NancyG, I hope Alex says the same thing one day about his baby
brother or sister!
I know he will. Don't worry!
Thanks! It's hard to imagine how he'll react but most people are
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?
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.
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.
Did he cry that early?
Alex couldn't cry because of the breathing tube down his throat.
At least we couldn't hear him. And of course, he was very very
Kaitlyn: Did you make friends with other parents who had
babies in ICU?
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.
Thank you, Jeff and Jill.
Jeff Stimpson: You're very welcome.
Congratulations, Stimpsons. :)
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.
Sue, if you have a question, go right ahead.
Jill says I forgot constipation.
and hemorrhoids ;)
I have a kind of personal question - how old is Jill? I'm 41 and
considering a second child after a preemie.
katwoman, Jill is 42.
katwoman59: By the way, I'm Adelle from Preemie-L
I'm suezeke - sue mom to Tyler, Zach and Hannah...
Jill was 40 when she got pregnant with Alex.
I was 40 when I got pregnant with Katy!
What was the reason for your early delivery?
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.
How big was Alex when he was born?
Alex was 21 oz at birth.
Is this common? Does anyone know what caused this?
What was his gestational age?
hi :) Jill - Newsweek ever get in touch with you Jeff?
Katwoman, his gestational age was 29 weeks (according to our dates,
going by our insemination!) and 27 weeks according to the hospital.
That's pretty small for that gestational age, isn't it? Katy was
26 weeks and weighed 26 oz.
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
Thank you Jeff, and best of luck to you and your baby!
Ferris: thank you very much.
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. :)
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.
That is great! Drew is still having problems walking.
Now let the fun begins :) - perpetual motion - Tyler doesn't stop . . .
Alex is still kind of stumbly and falling. He keeps getting up
Sue: yes, that's exactly what one of the doctors, who hadn't seen
Alex in a while, said about three months ago!
How old is Drew, Rosy?
Drew is 21 months old, Sue.
My kids (full term & Ty) all walked at such different times.
I've just started reading Jeff's essays!
sue_wilska: I love Jeff's essays. My sister read
them all too.
We love them too, Sue!
They are wonderful aren't they?
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!
Yes thanks for sharing! Best of luck!
Thanks for sharing!!
I wish I would have turned on the computer sooner - I am so happy
for all of you.
I'll see you on Preemie-L!
Jill Stimpson: We enjoyed this very much and we'd like to
do it again soon! Goodnight, everyone and thank you for joining
Thanks and goodnight, everyone.