Show & Tell: Megan Kennedy, a Preemie Mom | Still Playing School

Show & Tell: Megan Kennedy, a Preemie Mom

By Devany LeDrew | Labels:
Please welcome one of my best friends, Megan!  I invited her to share her son Everest's story because not only is he one of E's best friends, but he is also very inspiring himself.  He's a little fighter, but partially because he has such an amazing mommy.

One of my favorite stories is how we met. Let's talk about that together.
We met working at KinderCare. We had lots of fun in the "klubmate room" during the summer program. We made an instant connection and always found a way to have fun in the classroom. I remember one of the 1st days I was in the class with you, we had apples for snack, and one of the kids asked for another apple. You asked if he finished the first one, I walked over, and he literally had a few seeds laying there. I said "I think so?"

Ah, yes, eating apples cores and all!  We had so much fun (and laughs) with those kids and now we have fun with our OWN kids together.  Things have changed so much in 8 years.  I also love the story about how we had one "double date" when we were both pregnant, you with Everest and me with E.  Then Everest was born early and soon I was holding him while E was kicking him from inside my tummy.  They've been best friends since before they were born!

Our families are very close.  We love all the Kennedys!  Can you introduce us to everyone? Who do you share your life with?

I share my life with my husband Jason, Everest who is 3.5, and Irelyn who is 2. We have 2 boxers (Blake and Laney) who are also a big part of our lives. We are lucky to have amazing family close by, and amazing friends who we think of as our family as well.

What is the most important thing we should know about you?

I am the mother I am today due to the circumstances Everest endured in his early days. I always thought I knew how I would parent, but things with him were so different and I had to adapt. I remember on numerous occasions people saying "you handle things so well!" But the way I thought about it was we were given these conditions and I had to "make the best of it". I learned so much from Everest.

People also tell me that I am so strong because of what I've enduring losing Violet.  I always think, "What choice do I have?" but in reflecting on this comment applying to you, it makes more sense.  You ARE inspiring because of all you've endured with Everest. You stay so positive and enrich his life in such a loving way. Can you tell us about his story?

Everest was born at 29 weeks and 5 days due to severe pre-eclampsia. I went into the doctor with a persistent headache, and my BP was high 140/95, and they sent me home with orders of bed rest, and a 24 hour urine collection. When they got the results, it was not good, and I was admitted. After further testing, it was determined that the pre-eclampsia was getting worse by the hour and it was best to induce. He had basically every preemie issue he could have had in the NICU. He had 2 holes in his heart (PDA and VSD), severe respiratory distress which resulted in chronic lung disease/bronchopulmonary dysplasia, he developed a bilateral intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleed) which resulted in hydrocephalus and PVL (white matter damage in the brain). He was 12 days old when he had a reservoir placed to drain the excess fluid off of his brain. His head was growing at 2cm's a day and they were draining 10cc's of fluid each day. Shortly after that he had a full VP shunt placed. He also developed a case of NEC (necrotising enterocolitis), which is a perforation of the bowel. He spent 11 weeks in the NICU.

Everest then

I will never forget the privilege of meeting him in the NICU for the first time. He has come so far. What has that journey been like? What support have you received?

Everest was such a sick little boy when he was born.  He was so tiny and we were afraid to touch him. It is truly amazing where he is today. The 1st year of his life he did "nothing."  He couldn't sit or crawl and his therapists were worried about how far he would go. He had 2 shunt infections and a tethered cord surgery in that 1st year and after that he took off. He learned to sit and crawl in a matter of weeks at 14/15 months. He had the most amazing doctors and nurses and the best therapists for PT and OT from the time he came home from the NICU until he graduated at age 3. We have the most supportive family and friends who have all given us such encouragement too.

Everest now!

Ideally, where do you Everest in 5 years? 10 years? How do you plan to help him accomplish this?

Ideally I just want Everest to feel "normal" compared to his peers in school, and not struggle every day. Due to his brain damage and the case of CP and just being premature he has higher chances of having developmental and learning disabilities  I treat him normally, "make' him do things that are tough for him to do so he doesn't feel like he needs help all the time. As he gets older, I just hope to be supportive and helpful in anything he needs. 

What are your other passions?

I love to help out with the Children's Miracle Network which has become a huge passion of mine since having Everest. We share his story and help other families like ours who are at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. It is an amazing organization that raises money for new equipment, toys, support for families in really tough situations with their kids.

Can you tell us about the Basket Bingo you are organizing for CMN?

I am very excited about the Thirty One Bingo we are holding on April 13th to support the Children's Miracle Network. There will be 20 games of regular bingo and a blackout game, plus raffles and 50/50 drawing, and a bake sale. The bags are all filled with wonderful things like photography gift cards, bath and body supplies, and summer fun toys! It is $20 ahead of time or $25 at the door. All proceeds will be donated to CMN in honor of Everest.

Who are some women that you admire and why?

It is so cliche to say, but I truly admire my mom. She was a single mother to my brother and I and she handled it with such grace. She was always there for us and worked hard to support us. My grandmother (I call her Ammy pronounced Am-ME) is also a huge role model. She is 79 years old, still lives on her own, owns her own business and works full time. She took care of my grandpa who was bed ridden for the majority of my life until he passed and she took care of her mother never putting her in a home. They are both always there for me and my kids and I hope to be as good of a person as they both are.

What advice can you give to other parents of preemies?
My biggest advice to new preemie parents is to make sure to take care of yourself too. Eat, drink, sleep. Its HARD, but if you take care of yourself you are able to focus better on baby. Keep a camera at the bedside for nurses to take pics when you are not there! When you come home, try to let things go, and just enjoy time with baby! It is so easy to stress about every little thing, but they grow so fast!

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  1. I'm Megan's uncle. I'm trying to print this out to send to her "Ammy", my mother who is not computer savvy and won't see this post unless it can be put into print. The function that allows this is disabled. Can you help?

    Rik Longenecker

  2. Rik, I will absolutely make sure that Ammy gets a copy!

  3. ♡ this ...thanks for sharing your story :)

  4. What a great story, Everest is an inspiration to all!