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Class of 2009 Profile: Peter Kottenstette, Texas MBA at Dallas/Ft. Worth

[caption id="attachment_1889" align="alignnone" width="399" caption="Peter Kottenstette with his wife Stacy and twin daughters Chloe and Emma."]Peter Kottenstette with his wife Stacy and twin daughters Chloe and Emma.[/caption]

One pound doesn’t seem like much—a can of soda or a bag of coffee beans, perhaps. Nothing substantial. But when Peter Kottenstette’s twin daughters were born 14 weeks prematurely on February 23, 2008, suddenly every pound, every ounce, mattered. Chloe was born first, at 1 pound, 11 ounces. Emma was born a minute later, weighing 1 ounce less. They each were just under 13 inches long.

The girls were rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and placed on ventilators—no time for hugs and kisses from mom and dad. It would be three and a half weeks before Kottenstette or his wife, Stacy, could hold their daughters for the first time.

Meanwhile, in addition to earning his MBA, Kottenstette was working full time as a client program manager for Authentix, a firm that sells nanotechnology to companies to aid in counterfeit detection. Most days looked like this: caring for his wife, driving 25 miles to and from the hospital twice a day, studying for class and working remotely from the hospital. Most nights he would get home around 10 p.m. and write a blog entry about the girls’ progress.

“Writing the blog helped me document what was going on and keep everyone up to date. But it was also a big release for me to be able to sit down and pour everything out,” Kottenstette says. “So much was going on. One day we walked in and saw them getting blood transfusions. That’s not something you ever expect to encounter—seeing your baby getting someone else’s blood.”

The irregularity of it all was taxing for Kottenstette and his wife.

He remembers sitting in a marketing class and getting a phone call that then-two-week-old Emma wasn’t doing well. Her lungs had been getting stronger, and she had been breathing on her own, but she had experienced a setback and the doctors put her back on the ventilator.

“The NICU is two steps forward, one step back,” he says. “Just when you think they’re making progress, something new comes up.”

When the Kottenstettes were finally allowed to hold Emma and Chloe, they were only able to do so once a day, for 30 minutes. While the skin-to-skin contact between parent and child helps regulate a baby’s temperature, it also burns calories, something the twins needed to avoid in order to reach a stable, healthy weight.

Slow as it was, the girls were making steady progress. They moved from the NICU to a special-care nursery and were then transferred to a hospital closer to the Kottenstettes’ home. Finally, on June 15, nearly four months after they were born, Emma and Chloe went home. The fact that it was also Father’s Day made the homecoming even sweeter for Kottenstette.

The next day, he wrote in his blog, “What a journey! And to think this is only the Preface to the story of the lives of Chloe and Emma. We just began Chapter 1 last night: ‘Life at home with Mommy and Daddy and two furry dogs!’”

Now more than a year old, Emma and Chloe are healthy and happy. But the roller coaster hasn’t stopped—in January, Kottenstette was laid off from Authentix. Yet in a difficult economic season, he earned offers from two top firms and accepted a position with Chevron in Houston. The new job meant selling their house in Dallas and finding a new home in Houston, all while staying on top of school work—something Kottenstette did well enough to earn an invitation to the Beta Gamma Sigma business school honor society.

Kottenstette, an undeniable optimist, says despite the hardships, everything has worked out for the best.

“It’s been pretty chaotic,” he says, “but it’s all come to a great conclusion.”

Read the Kottenstettes’ blog about their journey with Emma and Chloe.

Watch a news clip about Peter and Stacy’s friendship with another couple who had premature twins in the same hospital.

By Tracy Mueller

More Class of 2009 Profiles
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