Our family of three was headed for one last vacation before we became a family of four—a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands—when contractions began. Instead of going to the airport to begin our vacation, we headed for the hospital to welcome our son. Jack was born 10 weeks early, on February 10, 2013. With what was a completely uneventful pregnancy, delivering a preterm infant was something that never crossed our minds, nor was something we were prepared for.
Jack weighed 3 pounds 12 ounces at birth, and spent 53 days in the NICU at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Jack suffered a grade-two intraventricular hemorrhage. Hearing that diagnosis was devastating and brought with it many emotions and questions for our son’s future. We continued to ask questions and gain knowledge of resources that Jack might require in the future.
Our time in the NICU was full of cautious optimism and joy. It was scary and uncertain at times, but the NICU at BBCH was also where I first held my son, bathed him, and fell in love with him. It was also where Jack’s big sister, Lydia, developed routines and memories that made her feel included. Lydia looked forward to having breakfast with him daily, choosing his bedding and clothes, and telling him stories. The doctors and staff were amazing and were always focused completely on the care of Jack and our family, which helped put us at ease, knowing he was constantly under their expert eyes. The BBCH NICU gave Jack his positive start in life. We are so thankful for everyone that cared for him.
From the moment we met the neonatologist in the delivery room, I knew we were in great hands. My mind was put at ease and I knew we were in the best place possible for the situation at hand. Over the course of his admission, we were amazed at the level of care, compassion, and communication we received. We were part of his care team and were included in all decisions that needed to be made. We are very fortunate to have such an incredible team of doctors here in Maine.
There was one thing that I could do, something that nobody else could provide for him, was breastfeeding. This was a journey that required support from multiple avenues and a lot of patience. As I learned how to breastfeed him and accept the challenges along the way, there were many times that we would take two steps forward and regress and take four steps back. I am proud to say that Jack was discharged exclusively breastfed.
Because of some developmental delays, Jack received OT, PT, and Speech through the first two years of his life. We are pleased to say that he has met and continues to meet all goals and is excelling in kindergarten. Jack loves soccer, hockey, and baseball. He has plans for his future to become a Game Warden.
The NICU isn’t an experience I would have ever chosen, but it is one I would never change. We are thankful for this team every day!
Story wriiten by Jack’s mom, Becky.