NICU Family Feature: Caleb

As a way to increase awareness of what the families we serve go through, we are starting a new monthly feature allowing families who’ve had a NICU stay to share their stories. We hope that eventually these will be families that were able to utilize the NICU care packages that we provide at our local hospitals.

I have met many people through Mikayla’s Grace already whose lives were touched by a baby that was born too soon, and thankfully many of them are success stories like the one I want to share today.  I met Sarah through Mikayla’s Grace and she donated about thirteen of her son Caleb’s books that will be passed onto other NICU babies.  I am so grateful that she is willing to share Caleb’s story with us.

Today is a special day for this family as they celebrate the 2 year anniversary of Caleb’s NICU graduation!

photos for blog

On May 29th, we will celebrate the 2 year anniversary of our beautiful little boy coming home.  However, when Caleb came home on May 29th, 2009 he was already 3 months old; let me start at the beginning.

When we found out we were pregnant in September of 2009, we were shocked.  I had had severe endometriosis and was told the chances of ever getting pregnant were few and far between.  So when that test turned positive, we just knew it was a miracle.  We had no idea how right we were.  The pregnancy was saddled with problems, almost from the beginning.   On February 9th, I was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital in Madison for severe pre-ecclampsia.  We were hoping to make it to the middle of April but on February 22, 2009 our miracle who was never suppose to be created was born at 24 weeks due to the fact that my pre-ecclamspia turned to HELLP, which is a deadly turn.  Caleb weighed 1 lbs 4.95 oz and was 11.5 inches long.  My mother put it best; she said “he weighs as much as a box of butter and he is as long as a foot long hot dog bun with half an inch taken off”.
I don’t remember the first 48 hours after Caleb’s birth because I was still fighting for my own life.  The first time I finally did see him, I was shocked at what I saw.  He was so small; I didn’t even realize that a baby could survive at that age.  We were told that Caleb had a long way to go and there was always the possibility he may not survive.  My husband and I were convinced our miracle would make it out those doors, eventually.  After the “honeymoon” stage however, things began to get rough.   They have a saying in the NICU “the life of a preemie is one big roller coaster”.  For every 1 step forward we took, Caleb took 6 steps back.  He developed a tear in his intestine 2 weeks after he was born.  Four weeks after he was born, Caleb suffered a severe bronchial spasm.  His lung collapsed and then it spasm shut.   He stopped breathing and had no heart rate for almost 15 minutes (of course the nurses were “breathing” for him, but still…).  The Dr. said she was going to try one more thing and if that didn’t work, she was going to call it.  Well, low and behold, our miracle proved them wrong again.  He came back and continued his fight.
After that incident, Caleb had a lot of catching up to do.  He was placed on steroids 4 times a day for almost 12 weeks, he was given caffeine shots every 12 hours (we had “family coffee breaks” everyday at 3pm), but he slowly began to get better.  Over the next few months, Caleb began to gain weight, learned to breathe on his own and figured out that whole “you need to breath while you eat” problem he was having.   He still had some issues he had to overcome of course; he had developed retinopathy of prematurity, which meant his retinas were detaching from his eyes.  They went in and corrected those and today, there are no problems!  He also had double hernia surgery but ironically, once that surgery was done and the pressure was taken off his lungs, Caleb began to breathe 100% on his own.  One week after that surgery, we finally were given the OK to go home.
When Caleb’s discharge day finally arrived, my husband and I couldn’t believe we were at that point.  We never thought we would ever biologically have a child and then, our child was born severely prematurely and shouldn’t have lived.  However, as we walked out the doors of the NICU and crossed the sky bridge to the garage, we knew our lives together were finally beginning.  We were a family!