Whit's story: Beating the odds


Whit Post | Texas Children's Hospital

When I watch my son successfully compete as a Level 6, Division 1 gymnast, I have to pinch myself to remember it’s real. It doesn’t take much for me to recall where we were at 11 years ago, when I was sitting in a hospital room just around the 24-week-mark of my pregnancy with twins. That day was filled with so much fear, anxiety and waiting, along with the many weeks to follow. “Twin B has a 99 percent chance of dying in-utero or during delivery,” said our high-risk obstetrician. “Within the 1 percent chance of survival, his quality of life will be minimal.” My husband and I melted into a puddle of helplessness.

The next 10 weeks were filled with numerous biophysical ultrasounds to document Twin B’s lack of growth and internal medical struggles. “Keep fighting.” This is what we kept telling ourselves. Amidst all of the bad news we were receiving and all of the recommendations thrown our way – one being to selectively reduce to protect Twin A – we just kept fighting. He was vibrant. He was wiggly. He was alive. “Keep fighting.” During a biophysical on the morning of Nov. 17, 2006, his heart nearly stopped. We were briskly moved for an emergency delivery, and it was all such a blur. NICU nurses and neonatologists at Texas Children’s were ready to receive both boys – an individual team for each baby. In this moment, time seemed to stand still. This was the moment we had waited and prepared for. Yet, this was also the moment we had feared the most. Within the same minute, both boys were out. Twin A weighed in at a plump 4 pounds, 10 ounces. Twin B weighed in at a fragile 1 pound, 15 ounces.

Oftentimes, we think of preemies in relation to the soft, Anne Geddes-like pictures of sweet little babies lying in the hands of their mothers, fitting perfectly. Our preemie was too small to hold or stimulate – not even 2 pounds, he had to lie in the gentle hands of God, the level 3 NICU nurses and neonatologists and his warm incubator. Our days in the NICU with Whit pushed us through a rollercoaster of emotions and concerns for our medically fragile baby. Our 70 plus days in the NICU were filled with monitors beeping and life-threatening situations at every turn. My husband and I often reminisce on Thanksgiving Day of our NICU stay. We had traveled all day to visit with family, and we ended our day at Texas Children’s, where Whit had spent his holiday with the sweet nurses on his floor. We were met at the door of the unit, while washing our hands and preparing to see Whit. The nurse gently muttered: “Whit is stable now, but we had to resuscitate him a few hours ago. He coded on us.” Talk about heart-dropping. The rollercoaster continued. If I had been told that some of our days in the Texas Children’s NICU would be great, and some would be dreadfully awful, I probably wouldn’t have understood. But living through it brings a whole new level of understanding. Surgery, heart issues, blood transfusions, necrotizing enterocolitis, failure to thrive, down to level 2, back up to level 3, eating today, liver is sick tomorrow…you get the point. The NICU staff at Texas Children’s saved Whit’s life on numerous occasions. Thank goodness for their love and devotion to their jobs!

Whit came home with us the following February, weighing a whopping 4 pounds. The months to follow were filled with follow-up appointments, new diagnoses, more blood draws and new bumps in the road, but that little boy lit up our home with spunk and zest. Whit began occupational and physical therapies for a mild cerebral palsy diagnosis, and continued moving forward on a growth-restricted path. He never looked back!

There have been a few moments in Whit’s life that bring back many memories from our NICU days. Whit absolutely hates shots and blood draws. The thought of them terrifies him, even if it’s for someone else. When you develop an anemia of prematurity while in the NICU, a few blood draws are definitely going to happen. The word “surgery” also horrifies him, especially if it’s related to a loved one. I think it sends him back to terrible moments connected to his NICU days.

On a positive note, similar to his days in the NICU, Whit’s love for life and perfection instills in him definite grit. He has a somewhat embedded willingness to work hard and push his limits, which has helped him grow into a successful gymnast, even through his adversities. His coaches are always reminding him to keep his arms straight – that right one especially – and he just pushes harder. His flexibility isn’t the easiest to overcome, but he receives extra stretching from the coaches and encouragement to help him persevere. Whit has an understanding about his body and how it works, which just baffles me. I think this will help him succeed, too. He’s resilient, and refuses to let his mild cerebral palsy and tighter right side interfere with his performance – he just works harder.

Whit is now a fourth grader, a straight-A student and trains at a USA Gymnastics facility in Pearland, TX. One of his coaches is a former Olympian and world champion, and Whit practices at least 20 hours a week. Whit really enjoys being in the gym consistently, but when he gets spare time he’s playing catch with his brother, hitting golf balls, helping his dad with jobs around the house or playing ukulele with his sister. He’s not a big fan of school, but loves to be outside and has a heart of gold for everyone around him.  

I’m forever grateful for the fabulous work and dedication from the Texas Children’s NICU team we worked with, and for the battle that precious little baby had to live through. He’s such an inspiration to me, and he has given me everything he’s had since I met him as a 1 pound, 15 ounce baby. Only a 1 percent chance of survival? Looking back, 11 years later – those are some pretty good odds to beat.