24 week preemie Maui birth story

After 3 healthy pregnancies, I never thought that I would have a preemie. But I did. On October 5, 2011, our 4th son, Ezekiel was born at 24 weeks and 6 days gestation.

Ezekiel was conceived with a copper IUD in place! My doctor was not able to take out the IUD because the string went up into my uterus. They were afraid that the IUD was in the sac with Ezekiel. At 12 weeks, they ruled that out – it was in the uterus. My pregnancy was categorized as high risk and the main risk was premature labor.

At 24 weeks I began spotting blood, the size of a dime. I have never spotted for any of my previous 3 pregnancies, so this was scary. I also began contracting; they were irregular and very uncomfortable. I knew they were more than just Braxton hicks. I went to Maui Memorial Emergency room on Saturday night (October 1, 2011). I was not dilated but the contractions were real. Ezekiel’s heart rate would drop occasionally. They gave me my first shot of steroids, in case I went into active labor. They also gave me magnesium to help stop the contractions. Magnesium is the worse medicine I have ever been on. I couldn’t eat anything and my liquid intake was minimal. It was horrible.

The doctor checked my cervix the next day and I was 1 cm dilated. Because Ezekiel’s heart rate continued to drop occasionally, the doctor felt the need to have me medevac to Kapiolani Medical Center. I arrived to KMC on Sunday October 2, 2011. I got my second dose of steroids that night.

Monday and Tuesday, the contractions went away and Ezekiel’s heart rate was stable. They were doing everything they could to try and keep him as long as they could. Wednesday October 5, 2011, I woke up around 2 am with what I thought was a stomachache due to constipation. I even gave myself a suppository and convinced the nurse and doctors that it was just a tummyache. The pain got worse and it began to come and go like contractions.

Doctors insisted that they check my cervix. I was hesitant because I knew checking my cervix could stimulate labor. Doctors checked me around 5:45am and I was 5cm dilated. Because there was some kind of obstruction in the opening of my uterus, (they thought it was a blood clot), I had to have emergency C-section. I was on the operating table within 20 minutes. It was the scariest thing I have ever been through. My fiancé was speechless. Before he was born, they gave him a 50% chance of survival. He couldn’t breathe on his own when he came out so he was incubated. He did come out looking better than expected, as I was concerned that he wouldn’t come out fully formed or that his skin was still translucent. But it wasn’t. Everything was intact. He was perfect; he was just 4 months too early. He was a micro preemie, weighing in at 1 lb. 3 oz. and 10 inches at birth. Machines had to now do the work my body would have done to help my son grow and develop.

It’s the hardest thing to watch your child fight for their life and there is nothing you can do. He spent his first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day in the hospital. It was an emotional rollercoaster. Ezekiel would have his good days and he would have his bad days. He battled lung disease, several infections, grade 3 brain bleed, apnea, and GERD.

After 154 days, on March 7, 2012, we were able to take him home, back to Maui. Having your baby on a different island from your home is added stress for an already overwhelming life event. But it’s definitely doable. Don’t be hesitant to accept help or ask for help from your friends and family (we were fortunate to be given lots of air miles). And the Ronald McDonald House on Oahu is 5 minutes away from the hospital. Here you will meet other families from the outer islands. Lean on them also for support. Lastly, love on your child as hard as you can. No matter how bad the bad days get, know that tomorrow is another day.

Ezekiel is now 14 months (adjusted). He is walking, almost running. He can wave and say, “bye bye.” He is definitely a fighter.

You can see the story through pictures at

Image Credit: Rochel Arquero

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