Mike and Melissa Tecosky knew their second pregnancy carried some risks. They could not have foreseen the gauntlet of hope and despair they would have to navigate over the next couple of months, or the role March of Dimes would play in saving their precious little boys.
Though the birth of Foster two years earlier had been textbook, by 2021 Melissa was over 35, “elderly” in the parlance of obstetrics; she had already endured a miscarriage, and she was having twins. Ultrasounds revealed the twins shared a placenta but resided in separate amniotic sacs, a further complication.
The couple had made plans for dinner with friends at a fancy local restaurant after yet another precautionary ultrasound in February when their world was shattered. Doctors and nurses ordered Melissa into the hospital for 35 days of constant observation because one baby was not thriving.
The Tecoskys were resigned to the fact that their boys would be delivered by Caesarian section premature – about eight weeks short of their due date. That was the point at which allowing them to continue to develop in an inhospitable womb carried more risk than delivering them before their lungs were developed.
At one point, health care professionals at Roper and MUSC, who were tag-teaming her pregnancy, presented Mike and Melissa with the option to shunt all the placental nutrition to one baby, ensuring his survival at the expense of his brother. Too horrible to contemplate, they tabled the idea.
The due date for delivery was set: April 1. But then fate played an April Fools trick. The boys’ hearts stopped pumping and Melissa was rushed into surgery on March 27, less than 32 weeks into her pregnancy.
“Suddenly the room went from four people to 10,” said Mike. “It was as dramatic as anything you see on TV.” Delivery took an hour-and-a-half, cost Melissa 14% of her blood and left the surgeon wondering whether he had broken Oliver’s arm while frantically removing him.
Premature birth is a leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S. today, and the incidence is especially high in South Carolina. Roughly seven infants per-thousand die in childbirth in the Palmetto state, a whopping 25% higher rate than the national average. Health disparities by race, income, education and age of parents are the leading causes.
For 80 years, March of Dimes has helped millions of babies survive and thrive by supporting moms through pregnancy and pioneering research that solves major health threats to mothers and babies. They developed the drug surfactant, which helps prematurely born babies whose lungs are under-developed breath. Surfactant has saved millions of children’s lives.
Two lives saved by Surfactant were Oliver and Miller Tecosky. Born into a world of blood, fear and chaos, the tiny new humans needed help to survive. Miller weighed under three pounds. Neither could breathe on his own. They were destined for a long stay in the neonatal ICU.
As an RN and a banker respectively, Melissa and Mike are steel-eyed about the risks and benefits of health care interventions. They devoured medical journals and website information about their pregnancy, including the March of Dimes website.
“The March of Dimes was a great resource, just being able to read information and know other people are going through the same thing,” said Mike. “It helped prepare us for everything we went through.”
They leaned on friends and family to care for their two-year-old while they dealt with the maelstrom of pregnancy complications and the very real possibility that they could lose their sons. Thankfully, their lungs developed and they survived.
The boys are six months old now and are healthy and thriving. Doctors continue to monitor their progress to make sure there were no lingering effects of their perilous entry into the world. The Tecoskys are eternally grateful to the March of Dimes for providing the drug that made their survival possible.
“Without them, my boys wouldn’t be here. I don’t have a check big enough or the words to describe how impactful that is,” he said.
You are invited to support the March of Dimes by attending or sponsoring its 2021 Charleston Real Estate Awards.