Babies: Bennett Hilliard Jr.
Favorite toy: Eeely the EEL
I was just 24 weeks into my pregnancy my second child when my water broke and I went into labor. Doctors immediately prepared Bennett and I for the impending birth of our son Hill, warning he would have a 50% percent chance of survival and would certainly face some type of severe and permanent disability. Preterm premature rupture of membranes at 24 weeks is rare, and the mother and baby’s life is at risk as long as the pregnancy continues. I was sdmitted to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital for the duration of my pregnancy. Hill and I were closely monitored due to the potentially fatal risk of umbilical cord prolapse and infection. With the cushioning amniotic fluid between the baby and umbilical cord gone, any movement could cause the baby to roll on the cord and stop the flow of oxygen, resulting in brain damage or death. My ability to remain calm and optimistic in such traumatic and stressful circumstances played a crucial role in my ability to prolong my pregnancy as long as medically feasible. Thanks to an excellent medical team, prayers, the support of loved ones, and a positive outlook, I remained pregnant for 59 days on complete hospital bed rest. To the surprise of an operating room full of nurses, obstetricians and neonatologists, Hill was born kicking and screaming at 32 weeks by an emergency C-section. Despite being born two months premature, and having no amniotic fluid for two months in utero, Hill needed no breathing support during his brief stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Since his birth in 2009, Hill has met or exceeded every developmental milestone and has shown no complications related to my hospitalization or his premature birth.
What did the support from friends and family mean to your family during your hospital stay?
It is hard to imagine, or to adequately convey, how difficult and stressful this type of ordeal can be on a mother-to-be and her family. While in the hospital, Hill and I received no support from a local or national nonprofit. This was the norm for other hospital patients, most of whom also did not have a strong personal support system. Thankfully, our family has an incredible support system of friends and family who encouraged us and took care of
anything the hospital staff couldn’t.
Why do you trot?
Every family deserves the gift we received. High Risk Hope evolved out of our dream to encourage others facing similar terrifying circumstances by bridging the gap between their worst fears of losing a child and the hope of leaving the hospital with a healthy baby. A team of incredible High Risk Hope volunteers started the Tot Trot, which has become an event that raises the dollars needed to support future High Risk Hope families and celebrates our High Risk Hope Very Important Preemies, including Hill. It is our family’s favorite day of the year!
Have a similar story? We would love to hear it!