Survival at Just 25 Weeks

Andrea and Todd Brommelkamp found out they were pregnant in early 2016. But, things got rocky during Andrea’s second trimester.

“On the 20-week ultrasound, they couldn’t really tell if his right foot was clubbed,” Todd says.

At 24 weeks, the doctor met with Andrea and Todd and shared good news and bad news. The good news was the baby’s foot wasn’t clubbed. The bad news was Andrea was being admitted to the hospital, immediately. Andrea knew something was up, and she soon found out more from her care team.

“I hadn’t started dilating, but I was really super close,” Andrea says. “So, basically, I was in labor at that point, which was 24 weeks and four days.”

After being admitted, Andrea and Todd got to ask all sorts of questions about the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and about the chances of their child’s survival, in the case of an early delivery. The care team put the couple on a plan in hopes of getting to 28 weeks, but baby Thomas didn’t want to wait that long.

“Thomas was born at 25 weeks,” Dr. Dennis Rosenblum, UnityPoint Health, says. “Once he got to the NICU, he required to be on a ventilator for a period of time. He had all the problems we would expect with a low birth weight, low gestational age infant.”

Thomas was born at 1 pound 11.5 ounces. The morning after the delivery, Andrea was able to see him for the first time. During that visit, one of the nurses took their wedding rings and put them around Thomas’ tiny legs.

“You’re thinking you have almost 15 weeks to do things like get a nursery ready. All of the sudden, you don’t have that luxury anymore, and you’re not going to be a parent, you are a parent,” Todd says.

Dr. Rosenblum says Thomas had problems with feeding intolerance and was on a ventilator for an extended period of time.

“It’s very difficult for families to go through that on a day-to-day basis, let alone a week-to-week and month-to-month basis. It’s not an easy thing to do, and we try and support them as much as possible through that,” Dr. Rosenblum says.

“I don’t think we would have ever gotten through it without the nursing staff, and every day, we got to know people better and better. We became friends with some of them, and it was just that comfort that we knew we were going to be in the hospital for a long time, like three plus months, and the reality was we weren’t going to be able to take that time off work. It was one of those things that I don’t know if I could have gone back to work without that trust factor there with them,” Andrea says.

Todd says looking at Thomas now, you wouldn’t know he was born at 25 weeks. He’s a healthy, happy baby. The days turned to months, and soon, it was time for Thomas to celebrate his first birthday.

“For his first birthday, we really wanted it to be the most important people in his life, so we invited my family and Todd’s family, and then, we invited his NICU staff, because without them he wouldn’t be here,” Andrea says.

“You never want your kid to be in the hospital but if we had to choose we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Todd says.

“They didn’t have to treat us like family, but they did, and to this day, we still have relationships with most of the nurses who took care of Thomas. They are just as invested as we are as parents, and you can’t really put a price tag on what that means to us,” Andrea says.