High Risk Hope Founder, Heather Barrow was just 24 weeks into pregnancy with her second child when her water broke and she went into labor. Doctors immediately prepared Heather and her husband Bennett for the impending birth of her son Hill, warning he would have a 50% percent chance of survival and would certainly face some type of severe and permanent disability.
Preterm premature rupture of membranes at 24 weeks is rare, and the mother and baby’s life is at risk as long as the pregnancy continues. Heather and Hill were closely monitored due to the potentially fatal risk of umbilical cord prolapse and infection. With the cushioning amniotic fluid between the baby and umbilical cord gone, any movement could cause the baby to roll on the cord and stop the flow of oxygen, resulting in brain damage or death. Heather’s ability to remain calm and optimistic in such traumatic and stressful circumstances played a crucial role in her ability to prolong her pregnancy as long as medically feasible.
Thanks to an excellent medical team, prayers, the support of loved ones, and a positive outlook, Heather remained pregnant for 59 days on complete hospital bed rest. To the surprise of an operating room full of nurses, obstetricians, and neonatologists, Hill was born kicking and screaming at 32 weeks by an emergency C-section. Despite being born two months premature, and having no amniotic fluid for two months in utero, Hill needed no breathing support during his brief stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Since his birth in 2009, Hill has met or exceeded every developmental milestone and has shown no complications related to Heather’s hospitalization or his premature birth.
It is hard to imagine, or to adequately convey, how difficult and stressful this type of ordeal can be on a mother-to-be and her family. While in the hospital, Heather received no support from a local or national nonprofit. This was the norm for other hospital patients, most of whom also did not have a strong personal support system.
HRH evolved out of one mother wanting to encourage others facing similar terrifying circumstances by bridging the gap between their worst fears of losing a child and the hope of leaving the hospital with a healthy baby. HRH has become an unstoppable and evolving movement in the Fight For Preemies thanks to our hospital partners, dedicated volunteers and loyal donors serving 2,500 new HRH families every year admitted to the Florida and California hospitals we serve.