Megan Barcroft of Dallas, Oregon is 32. She’d been trying to get pregnant for years. When she wasn’t successful she turned to fertility treatments. And, like so many others, she developed a multiple birth pregnancy – triplets.
By definition such a pregnancy is high risk, to the mother and the babies. A mom like Barcroft is monitored closely. In her case, it resulted in four weeks of bed-rest in the hospital and then an emergency C-section when she developed preeclampsia, dangerous hypertension that can lead to a stroke.
She gave birth to two girls and a boy and the infants, with low-birth-weight and some other health concerns, stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for weeks.
Neonatologists have been busy these days as more people delay parenting to get their lives and careers in order – which makes sense in ever tighter economic times. But older parents can lead to fertility problems – the potential for multiple births and other issues that affect pregnancy and post-partum challenges for the mom and the babies.
Medical technology and skill have steadily advanced. Now at a neonatal unit such as Dr. Cindy McEvoy's at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, babies as small as one pound can be cared for over months until they can thrive on their own.
Even my own son, Ari, was born six weeks early. Now he’s a strapping 20-year-old college sophomore. So I am reminded of how these tiny babies can grow big and healthy.
Certainly it’s not always the case. There is only so much that can be done, or makes sense to do. Tough choices and concerns for the long-term health of a preemie abound--for example, how healthy are their lungs? Ari, for example, has been prone to mild asthma. This is not unusual, as McEvoy has found in her research of preemies as they grow up.