To Arkansas, with Love: Feeding Fragile Babies Beyond North Texas
Katie and Noah from Fayetteville, Arkansas, immediately faced challenges upon their introduction to parenthood. Their daughter, Annie, was severely growth restricted during pregnancy. The placenta was small and the umbilical cord wasn’t attached properly, preventing Annie from receiving the nutrients she needed to grow.
The first-time parents were diligent during Katie’s pregnancy, doing everything they could to prepare for their daughter’s arrival. When they visited their specialist for a scheduled 36-week ultrasound, he informed them Annie hadn’t grown and Katie needed to deliver soon - within the week. Katie’s Ob-Gyn agreed, and the family headed to the hospital that same day.
The next morning, the medical team induced contractions, and by that afternoon Annie showed signs of distress. Unable to keep track of the heartbeat, they had Katie start pushing and Annie was born soon afterward. She was blue, the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice. The nurses immediately whisked her away to stabilize her.
Because of her small size, doctors struggled to determine Annie’s actual gestational age and changed it several times. She was estimated to be 34 weeks at birth.
With Annie settled in the NICU after her premature arrival, Katie struggled to produce breastmilk. However, Katie and Noah knew there was a way to ensure their daughter received the nutrition she needed. Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas serves many hospitals in Arkansas, including the one where Annie was, and the NICU nurses offered donor milk to the family. And as a native of Fort Worth, Katie was already familiar with the milk bank in her hometown - in fact, a childhood friend worked there.
Annie received donor milk until Katie could supply her own breastmilk, protecting her from potential complications. “It was a huge blessing to us to be able to use donor milk until my milk came in,” Katie said.
After a day, Annie was able to come off oxygen. Two weeks later, she had the lines removed where she was receiving extra nutrients. The NICU staff monitored her for a few more weeks, and after 5 and a half weeks in the NICU, Annie went home with her parents.
Annie is making strides every day. Her parents are grateful she received donor milk, giving her the best start to life. “Donor milk allowed her to have what was natural, and what she would have been receiving had we been able to go straight home and breastfeed,” Katie said.