Life at 26 weeks
Article Date: Apr 22, 2013



Monica Ann Cooper is a sweet little baby with her whole life ahead of her.

"I already can see her 20 years down the road; I think I know what she's going to be like," said Sara Cooper, Monica's mother.

At six months old, Monica's parents can barely take their eyes off her. All babies are special but considering the start little Monica had, someone was definitely looking out for her.

"We had a lot of prayers for her. I know that's why she is where she's at," said Sara.

Monica came into this world early, very early. Sara was only 24 weeks along when some nagging symptoms became too great to ignore.

"I noticed some swelling in funky places and I wasn't sure if it was normal or not," said Sara.

Combine that with rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, and excruciating headaches and Sara's doctor knew this uneventful pregnancy had just turned into an emergency.

Sara was diagnosed with a severe case of preeclampsia, a serious condition that can put mom and baby at risk. Sara and her husband Adam checked into Bergan Mercy Medical Center where they quickly ruled out bed rest as an option.

"At that point I was afraid it was my life or hers," said Sara.

"Certainly the signs and symptoms were there - this was a pretty bad situation and we needed to fix it as soon as possible," Monica's husband, Adam said.

Fixing it - meant delivering Monica by c-section. Sara was only 26 weeks along.

"It was scary, but I knew that's what we needed to do," said Adam.

Monica was born October 8th, 2012 – three and a half months early.

"The first time I saw her she looked kind of alien like; born at that stage they don't look normal. She was very red, extremely small - one pound eight ounces - you think is she going to make it; is she going to be healthy," said Adam.

Monica's special needs would require the skilled team from Bergan Mercy Medical Center's level three Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She was alive, but a premature infant in her condition needs round the clock care to grow and thrive. The team went to work immediately.

"She kept us on our toes; she did have a very rough course the first several weeks to months of her life. We would say it's a miracle she survived the day. That was our goal – take it one day at a time. She was so touchy on everything we were trying to do for her. We had to reach deep in our pockets to find things Monica would cooperate with," said Brenda Wallingford, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

Monica would spend the next four months in the NICU -the first month, on a ventilator.

"We have learned so much in the care of a premature baby so we can minimize those long term problems," Wallingford said.

Adam and Sara credit prayer and the skilled team at Bergan Mercy Medical Center for Monica's milestones.

"Thank God for today's technology and for the medical staff and all of their expertise; a baby like this wouldn't have made it years ago," Adam said.

Just look at Monica - stretching now – rolling over is next. Given how early she was born she's doing remarkably well.

"Medically speaking, she has some reflux which is kind of the only issue with her," Adam said.

"It will take a couple of years to get her caught up developmentally," Sara said.

Today at six months Monica weighs eight pounds.

"A lot of people tell us they would never know she was a preemie," Sara said.

Monica is the center of Sara and Adam's world. Hard to imagine that just six months ago, her future was so uncertain.

"It was hard picturing her turning into the baby she is now - but she did it," Adam said.


This article originally appeared in the Alegent Creighton Health enewsletter. Subscribe now and get the latest health and wellness information delivered to your inbox.


Reader Comments
Posted: Apr 23 2013 12:54 AM CST by Melanie

Our son was born at Bergan at 30 weeks and we can not sing the praises of the L&D and NICU staff enough! They saved our sons life and probably our sanity. Everyone was so kind, thorough and skilled. We had an amazing experience & thank god and our Bergan angels on earth for our amazing little guy. Thank you Dr. Sotolongo, Dr. Barsoom, Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Zach, Kymee Bridges (<<--best L&D nurse EVER) and so many of the staff &nurses in the NICU! I feel bad we don't have everyone's names but we can never than you all enough.




Posted: Apr 23 2013 2:21 AM CST by Lisa Bader

This was an amazing story. The Cooper's are an extraordinary family. I feel blessed to have been one of Monica's occupational therapists in the NICU and to see her thriving now. Wow! Bergan's NICU is the best!!




Posted: Apr 23 2013 8:09 AM CST by Donna Rausch-Wilshusen

Adam and Sara are good friends of ours. What a blessing to share this miracle with them. They are great parents and Monica is such a sweetheart. Praise God for whom all blessings flow!!! What a precious gift Monica is to Adam and Sara and thank God for Bergan and their great care!




Posted: Apr 23 2013 9:29 AM CST by Linnea

I too was a very premature baby back in 1955. My mom was just beginning her 5th month of pregnancy and I was born. Now back then if they could save me, I know it can be done today with all the advanced technology and I have no mental or physical limitations.
All I can say is little Monica has a very special calling on her life by God and she must fulfill it. I get so overjoyed when I read stories like this. Let's me know God is the giver of life, and we definately thank God for the knowledge and skill He has given to those angels called doctors and nurses who care for those very precious babies! God bless the family and give you the knowledge on how to raise such a very special child.




Posted: Apr 23 2013 10:32 AM CST by Lisa Robino-Wolter

Truyly a remarakable and inspiring story. I will see you at the walk Saturday!

I had my son in July of 2008 at 29 weeks due to Ecclampsia. He was in the NICU for 74 days before he went home and was on oxygen for about a year. He is completely normal and thriving now due to the excellent care he recieved at BMMC NICU. I didn't know anything about preemies before this experience, and the nurses, Drs, and Nurse Practitioners saved me and my sons life, and helped carve his way to a very healthy life.

The story above is how "OUR" NICU operates every day. KUDOS to all the staff that save lives every day!




Posted: Apr 23 2013 11:21 AM CST by heather miller

My son was born at Bergan Mercy in Omaha at 33wks weighing 4 lbs 1oz. Thank god for the drs and NICU staff, if not for them he would probably not be here with me at age 2 yrs 8 months weighing 28lbs now. Thanks so much!




Posted: Apr 23 2013 11:22 AM CST by Angela Burbeck

This story brought tears to my eyes. 12 years ago my daughter was born at 34 weeks as I also had preeclampsia. I am pregnant with our second now (yes call me crazy -a teenager and a toddler) and have had no problems this time around. I have such respect for this family and the healthcare team that took care of this sweet little girl. I work at Bergan and can't say enough about their maternity program here. Beatiful story.




Posted: Apr 23 2013 11:35 AM CST by Linnea

I too was a very premature baby back in 1955. My mom was just beginning her 5th month of pregnancy and I was born. Now back then if they could save me, I know it can be done today with all the advanced technology and I have no mental or physical limitations.
All I can say is little Monica has a very special calling on her life by God and she must fulfill it. I get so overjoyed when I read stories like this. Let's me know God is the giver of life, and we definately thank God for the knowledge and skill He has given to those angels called doctors and nurses who care for those very precious babies! God bless the family and give you the knowledge on how to raise such a very special child.




Posted: Apr 23 2013 12:22 PM CST by Patrice Mortensen

Truely blessed family to have the staff @ Bergan taking care of little Monica. She is a beautiful baby from the minute she was born. Congrats to mom & dad.




Posted: Apr 23 2013 7:51 PM CST by Kimberly Driver

Monica is beautiful, thank you for sharing your story!! God Bless!!




Posted: Oct 23 2013 9:33 AM CST by Kylee Ienn

I was born at Bergan in 1994 and I was also 3 months early. I was a twin however but I weighted in at 2 pounds and 10 ounces and my brother was 3 pounds. I was hospitalized for at least 3 months. My brother had more difficulties, he was put on a ventaltor and was put on steroids. Today we are fine and no lasting effects.




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