Expecting But Not Pregnant: A Different Kind of Big Sister
July 23, 2021
Losing Our Daughter Opened Our Eyes to Families in Crisis
August 3, 2021

Featured Family: Alana Else

What event triggered you applying for assistance? Premature birth, NICU stay

Why did you apply for assistance? The hospital social worker shared the foundation information with me as I was in the L&D recovery room. Before then, I was having anxiety over how we were going to work out finances knowing that our son was going to have a lengthy NICU stay after being delivered 6 weeks early. My husband did not have any PTO as he had just started his job and we were not financially prepared to have our so arrive so soon.

What assistance did you receive? Delinquent partial home property tax payment

Explain what this help meant to you. What effect did it have on your family short-term and long-term? Short-term we no longer had to worry about our late home property tax payment that was now overdue by over a month. We’d been struggling financially prior to our son’s arrival due to my multiple hospital trips regarding pregnancy concerns. Long-term this help prevented us from having any issues with the city regarding our property taxes as they were paid by the Colette Foundation. It was one bill out of a long list of other financial obligations that we no longer needed to stress over.

If you had not gotten the help you did, what would that have meant for your family? Our home property tax would likely continued to have been delinquent for quite a while, racking up late fees along the way. We were planning to apply for a local grant to assist with bringing our home up to code, but would not be eligible unless our property taxes were in good standing.

Tell us as much as you want to share about your family’s story. My husband and I had a miscarriage with our first baby back in August 2020, the next day our home and town were hit by the Derecho storm. It took us quite a while to bounce back from the pain of losing our baby and seeing the destruction of our town. We got pregnant with our rainbow baby a couple months later. My pregnancy started having complications beginning at 24 weeks when I began to get these horrible migraines– unfortunately, my concerns regarding my pregnancy such as various symptoms that I know know were the start of Preeclampsia developing, small belly, and lack of major fetal movements, were all brushed off by my midwife as “normal pregnancy aches and pains and my placenta was dulling baby’s movements”. At 33 weeks, I had a sudden bleed but was sent home despite having some abnormal labs. Later that same week, I was hospitalized for Preeclampsia and we were hopeful that I could deliver at 37 weeks. The Preeclampisa became severe so after the 4 steroid shots, I delivered my son, John “Jack” on May 10th at 4:01 p.m. — we were told he’d have a relatively short stay in the NICU but would be the biggest baby in the there. In the operating room, I vaguely remember hearing “Oh, he’s small…” and a nurse asking my husband if we had known he’d be so small, of course we didn’t. Jack was born via C-Section weighing 1250 grams, or 2 lbs 12 oz at 33 6/7 weeks. We are told that he was growth restricted (IGUR) due to placental insufficiency due to the preeclampsia. I’d always had a feeling that there was something not quite right with my pregnancy and looking back, I should have advocated for the both of us more, been more pushy about my symptoms, but I held on to every reassuring word from my midwife as I so badly and so selfishly wanted this pregnancy to be “normal”. Jack, despite all odds, never ceased to amaze us as he grew and developed in the NICU. We were blessed that he came through without any lasting medical issues, as well as myself. I was haunted by the thought that if we had waited any longer, one or both of us would not have made it out of this. Jack was a favorite of all of his NICU nurses, one even saying that he was “extra sweet”.

What has happened since asking for help? Bring us up to date. Jack discharged from the NICU on June 22nd, the week of his original due date, on oxygen and O2 monitor while he gets bigger and his lungs can continue to get stronger. He is thriving here at home as has gained 3 lbs overall since birth, now 5 lbs 12 oz. Our home is coming together nicely, and Jack’s nursery is almost finished. Jack already has the biggest personality for such a little guy, and is the biggest sweetheart. He still has lots of hurdles to overcome and many medical appointments ahead, but he is getting stronger every day.

What would you say to another family going through this same process? It’s okay to ask for help, with a baby in the NICU, or the loss of a baby in which I’ve experienced both, you have to let go of your ego and remind yourself that you can’t do this all on your own. Foundations like the Colette Louise Tisdahl Foundation are here specifically to help individuals going through what we have or are going through. Be kinder to yourself and your partner, and remind each other that you’re doing the absolute best you can– you are not perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes or fall apart emotionally. Just remember to stay strong, for your baby and for yourselves. Your baby will come home eventually, and just think, this whole ordeal of having your baby in the NICU will soon all be a distant memory. Having a baby in the NICU is surely one of the hardest things you will go through, but you will all come out stronger than ever before.

What do you now know that you wish you had known previously? That I was always capable of getting through this, there were times I questioned my ability to handle all this stress. I now know that I am my biggest advocate and it’s okay to be pushy when you need to be, and you’re not there to make friends with the nurses. If something doesn’t feel right with your baby’s care, speak up, ask for the nurse manager.

Tell us something unique or special about your journey. I graduated with a Human Services degree in May despite struggling the last couple months due to pregnancy complications. My baby boy arrived as a late birthday and mother’s day gift! I also have struggled with mental health issues for over a decade, and this journey has given me the strength and skills to get through it all and have a positive attitude.

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