With six kids, including two sets of twins, the Richmond-Wilson household is a non-stop hotbed of activity. However, there will be a moment of reflection at tonight’s Thanksgiving Day dinner table when Aimee, Peggy and their children are reminded that there is so much to be thankful for.
Aimee Wilson recently bought a camera for her birthday and took a photo of her six-year old daughter, Kate, dressed in Little Mermaid attire for Halloween. Both Aimee and partner, Peggy Richmond, chose to share Kate’s picture with others and submitted the photograph along with an essay to Central Texas’ Preemie Power contest, part of a community-wide neonatal intensive care unit reunion.
“My partner carried Kate and her sister Reese, twins,” Wilson said. “She had a placenta abruption, spent six weeks in the hospital and delivered at 31 weeks.”
Kate was born weighing only three pounds and was hospitalized for 90 days in the NICU. Her prognosis was not good.
“We were just hoping she would hold on,” Wilson remembered. “We couldn’t hold her for two weeks; it was awful. When we finally got to hold her, she still had things hooked up to her.”
“The first year was hard. There were only a couple of people she would allow to hold her. We were a wreck. Doctor’s visits were the only time I got out of the house. We were constantly afraid to take her outside.”
Due to numerous gastric problems and ensuing surgeries, Kate remained attached to a feeding tube for three years.
But Kate is a fighter.
Every time they’d [doctors] give her a prognosis, she’d beat it and we’d breathe a sigh of relief,” Wilson said.
Now in first grade, Kate needs help with writing, math and some gross motor skill activities. Although diagnosed with a mild case of cerebral palsy, Kate has made so many advances that she no longer needs physical and occupational therapy. Kate has recently become interested in sports and swims with a local club.
Kate’s twin, Reese, has no complications from the premature birth.
“Usually one twin carries the brunt of the issues,” said Wilson. “One had lower fluid in the placenta sac which caused a lack of oxygen. Her umbilical cord was smaller so the same nutrients weren’t going to her as her sister.”
“Her sister is athletic and bright so it’s hard when people compare them to each other.”
However, last weekend’s win, and the bike that comes with it, was all Kate’s because her submission was chosen for top honors in the age 6 and over category.
“We haven’t gotten the training wheels on but she’s excited,” Wilson said of the win.
The contest and celebration was organized by Hand to Hold, a local nonprofit started last year by Canyon Creek resident Kelli Kelley who is also the parent of two children born prematurely.
Kelley’s program provides information, local resources, and one-on-one mentoring to new parents of preemies in the Central Texas region.
Richmond and Wilson, whose second set of twins were also born prematurely, joined Hand to Hold to share their experiences with other families of newborn preemies.
“The nurses helped but knowing there’s someone out there to tell you that your kid’s going to be fine is fantastic,” Wilson said.“The doctors told us Kate might be blind or deaf, so many things that didn’t happen. I needed someone to tell me that isn’t always the case.”
“Kate definitely has a tougher road than her sister or a full term baby but she’s perfect to us. We’re thankful for everything,” Kate said.
According to data supplied by the Hand to Hold Organization, currently one out of every eight babies in the U.S. is born pre-term (before 37 weeks gestation).
In 2006, one in seven babies was born preterm in Texas and, of the approximately 310 births in Austin each week of that year, 39 were premature.
Check hillcountrynews.com to view Kate’s award-winning photo and read her parents’ essay.
For more information about Kelley’s organization, visit handtohold.org.