Cameron was born at 26 weeks via emergency c-section because I had developed HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count.) He also suffered from severe IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) and was only the size of a 23-week-term baby. His birth weight was 14 oz (410 grams), which then dropped down to 13.75 oz (390 grams). We were made aware that chances of survival were very slim, but the NICU staff would do everything they could to save our little boy.
His eyes were still fused shut until day 3 and it wasn’t until day 5 when I was able to hold him. Kangaroo care and dad held him on day 6. The first time holding your child should be one of the happiest moments of your life, and it was. However, it was also terrifying. He was so tiny with so many tubes and wires. It took two nurses and a respiratory therapist to transfer him from isolate to our chest and we weren’t able to hold him long because he couldn’t regulate his own body temperature. The nurses were so helpful making us feel comfortable taking his temperature and changing his diapers. When you have a child in the NICU who is so fragile, those little moments, such as changing a diaper, allow you to finally feel like you’re a parent with the ability to help your child. Most other moments for us were spent sitting on the other side of the isolate wall watching our boy and feeling helpless. We had daily rounds with the staff who were caring for him and we were always made to feel included in the day-to-day plans for Cameron.
He was intubated for 53 days. We had three unplanned extubations, which, to put it mildly, were the scariest moments of our lives. He was given medication to close the PDA in his heart. He had five blood transfusions and three platelet transfusions. With each transfusion his feedings were withheld and he was put on TPN.
After 156 days, we walked out the door with Cameron with a bilateral hernia surgery, mild ROP, oxygen, and very full hearts filled with love for our doctors and nurses. They are so much more than that to us now, they are like family. We will forever be grateful for the care that not only Cameron received, but we received, as well. They make a hard, stressful, emotionally draining situation easier with their kind words, reassurance, and, most importantly, the love they have for our sweet boy.
Cameron is 2 years old and is such a smart and funny little boy. He loves doing puzzles and reading books. He knows his colors and loves to play outside and climb on everything. He didn’t hit all milestones “on time” and he’s still small for his age. But otherwise, a happy, healthy little boy!
Story written by Cameron’s mom, Danielle.