Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Mother shares agony of losing two of three triplets after premature births

Published:Tuesday | November 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Serika Sterling, founder of The Preemie Foundation of Jamaica.

Serika Sterling's decision to start The Preemie Foundation of Jamaica was not to add another title to her rÈsumÈ. It came from a deep place within of watching two of her triplets die from complications they developed due to premature births.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Sterling shared that the agonising experience her family had to endure has taught her that too many persons, including policymakers, have trivialised premature births for a long time. She also believes that a lot more needs to be done to give every premature baby a fighting chance.

 

POST-BIRTH COMPLICATIONS

 

Though progress is being made with her organisation, the mother of two said she will never forget the complications she developed after having to do a Caesarean section (C-section) to deliver her male triplets last year. She was told to sign on a dotted line in case she didn't wake up.

"Luckily, I woke up, and they said they were all alive. Miraculously, they found three ventilators. They told me that two were on the ventilators. One was breathing a little bit, but within 24 hours, he stopped breathing, and they had to put him on the ventilator. That's when the madness started," Sterling recalled.

"I was discharged, and I went to look for them. They were all doing OK, but when we went home and we were getting ready to go to bed, we got a call from the hospital that one of the babies is really sick and we should come. By the time we got there, we knew that he had died because they wouldn't allow us to go in the room and we had to wait for the doctor."

The mother added, "The second one survived for another seven weeks, so we bonded, and because he was a little bit more sickly than the other one, we bonded even more because I would have spent more time in his room, watching him. However, it so happened that one day, I was waiting to go there (the hospital) and the doctors called me. When we went there, they said his body was slowly shutting down and there was nothing else that they can do."

Sterling said she is still hurting but is grateful that one of her sons survived, and though he is still experiencing some complications, he is doing well.

 

... Foundation aims to purchase ventilator for every major hospital

 

A major objective of the Preemie Foundation of Jamaica, founded last year, is to raise funds that will assist with purchasing a ventilator for every major hospital in Jamaica, in addition to providing an outlet where hurting families who have lost premature babies can get professional help to cope. The organisation is currently running a Text-A-Thon, which ends November 30.

Founder Serika Sterling had some advice for hurting families and policymakers.

"For the 'preemie' mom and dad, I know commonly asked questions are, 'What could I have done differently, or what did I do to deserve this?' I say, nothing at all. Take your doctor's advice, and if you should fall into this situation, continue to take care of yourselves," she said.

"For the policymakers, I remember I was trying to get some statistics, and I was shocked to know that the country doesn't know how many premature babies are being born. So, if we don't know this, how do we make decisions as to how to equip hospitals? That, for me, tells the story about the level of care the Government has towards situations like these."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com