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Two months too early: A story of preterm labor

Janine Colavita shares her story of preterm labor

August 31, 2021

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At Organon, our vision is to create better and healthier every day for women. This includes shining a light on the health issues that matter to her, like preterm labor. Organon’s Janine Colavita, Director in Global Communications, is passionate about sharing her preterm labor experience to inspire other women and Organon’s mission.

Here’s her story, in her own words:

I dealt with pre-term labor in both my pregnancies: first with my twin boys, Conner and Hunter, and then again with my daughter, Maddie. But it’s the twins who especially stick in my mind, given the complications we faced when they were born too early.

I was only 26 weeks pregnant when my doctors told me I needed to go on complete bedrest to help keep the twins in utero longer. For two months, I worked from home – really, from the couch – and only got up a few brief times a day. Though it was an intense time, and difficult mentally and physically, I was able to stay pregnant for nearly another two months.

That is, until 33 weeks into my pregnancy, when my water broke and I went into a very quick labor. There wasn’t time to administer the steroid shots commonly used to strengthen babies’ lungs. Nearly two months early, Conner and Hunter were born weighing just 4 lbs. each.

Conner was born not breathing and was whisked away to the NICU where they discovered several issues, including a hole in his heart. It was a week before I could hold him. Both boys experienced sleep apnea and required 24/7 monitoring to make sure they were breathing. I went home from my delivery without my new sons. Instead, I spent the next several weeks visiting them in the NICU.

I was grateful my hospital had a NICU that was state-of-the-art and capable of helping the twins – not every hospital is ready for preemies.

We were very lucky. They managed to fix the hole in Conner’s heart, and though the boys lost weight and frightened us a lot, they eventually held their own. After three weeks of care, the twins came home.

But they came home attached to sleep apnea monitors 24 hours a day, spending their first two months with us attached to wires. We had to learn infant CPR before the hospital would release them, and it turns out, we needed it. A few times we had to help remind them to breathe. Once we even landed in the ER.​​​​​​​

The complications from that early delivery stay with Conner especially. He spent the first 10 years of his life visiting cardiologists for regular monitoring. His teeth didn’t have time to develop properly, and his enamel is weak requiring a lifetime of dental work ahead of him.

Both boys were small for their age until they got older – often in the negative percentile of growth.

I faced preterm labor again with my daughter, once again at 33 weeks. Thankfully, I was able to carry her until full-term. But the pain and worry of that moment are not easily forgotten – I still remember begging the doctors to stop my labor, too frightened of what another NICU baby might mean while I had two small twins at home.

Today, the twins are healthy 16-year-olds. You’d never guess they were born two months too early, but the birth pictures of my tiny boys, covered in wires and tubes, don’t let us forget all we’ve been through.

I’m so proud to work for Organon. My experience reinforces why the company’s vision to advance women’s health is one we desperately need.