In 2014, Amy Little was pregnant with her third child. She and her husband, Josh, were expecting Charlie to be the biggest of the three, as he was measuring five days larger than what they had calculated. Madeline and Gabe, her five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, were both born full-term at over nine and a half pounds. Charlie, however, had other plans.
A bump in the road
Twenty-five weeks into her pregnancy, Amy experienced some intense bleeding to the point where she was admitted to the hospital for four days and then released with strict instructions to rest at home.
“I thought I would stop bleeding, go back to work and come October, he’d be born,” she says. “It would be a little bump in the road.”
While she was packing up her older children to spend the week with their grandparents, she felt another gush of blood and started having contractions. Amy returned to the hospital and was transferred by mobile ICU to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
A neonatologist stopped in to check on her and the baby later that day. “If Charlie was born today, he would have a 80% chance of survival,” the doctor said. Amy felt shaken that Charlie might be in trouble.
The next day, her contractions came back stronger than ever. Charlie was born fifteen weeks early on July 6, 2014, after just 30 minutes of active labor.
After Charlie was born, Amy described the next several moments as a complete whirlwind. Charlie was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a Level III NICU within The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “They let me see him, but then they had to take him away,” she says, her voice thick with tears.
The neonatologist’s words echoed in Amy’s head. She worried about his breathing issues – he was on a ventilator in the NICU – as well as physical or mental issues that he might have later.
“They said we’d get back to the NICU in an hour or two, but it seemed like forever,” she says. Charlie quickly went from the ventilator to a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which used mild air pressure to keep his airway open. He had an arterial line and a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC), which delivered total parenteral nutrition (TPN) until he was able to drink the breastmilk Amy pumped for him. He also needed a blood transfusion.
Charlie spent 99 days in the NICU and came home on October 13, 2014, just one day before his due date. He weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces – about one pound smaller at three months old than her other babies had weighed at birth. He came home without a heart monitor, oxygen or apnea monitor, which Amy considered a success.
“The team of doctors and nurses in the NICU were absolutely incredible,” Josh shares. “We grew incredibly close to a few of the nurses. In fact, one of them is now Charlie’s godmother.”
He’s a pistol
Now Charlie is a happy and healthy 2-year-old who loves to play outside and take walks with his family. Amy calls him a “people pleaser” who’s always trying to entertain his family.
“He’s a smiley, happy kid,” Amy says. “He runs, jumps, climbs, and is into everything. He weighs 26 pounds and is 34 inches tall, and wears 18-month clothes. “Still on the smaller side, but gaining,” Amy says with optimism.
For Amy, the most rewarding part of this experience has been seeing Charlie overcome the odds. “Just watching him grow and seeing how far he’s come, what’s he’s accomplished and overcome,” she says with emotion. “He’s a pistol.”
Amy encourages other families with premature babies to know it’s okay to accept help from friends and family. She particularly remembers a neighbor who took over mowing her lawn. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she says.
“Kids are resilient. They have the fight, the drive to get strong and stay strong,” she says through her tears. “They have the passion.”
Amy and Josh are one of many families who have experienced prematurity and are sharing their words of wisdom and inspiration for others currently going through it. Read their messages here.