Colin was born Aug. 3, 2013, 16 weeks before his Nov. 27 due date, and weighed a tiny 1 pound, 1.5 ounces. By the time he was two weeks old, Colin already had undergone heart and bowel surgeries within 12 hours of each other.
It was a whirlwind of emotions for Colin’s parents, Jessica and Jerrod, who were figuring out how to navigate life with a baby in the hospital in Minneapolis and two other children at home in Wisconsin.
“The hardest part was keeping as strong as our little boy has been,” Jessica said.
On Thanksgiving, the day after his due date, Colin already had spent 117 days in the NICU and had multiple surgeries. While it was a busy and stressful time for their family, Jessica and Jerrod took comfort in knowing their son was receiving the best care possible at Children’s. Colin’s family even was able to check on him 24/7 with the assistance of a NicView camera, which allowed the family to watch streamed, live footage from a camera in Colin’s crib at the hospital.
Weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces and having spent 139 days in the NICU, nearly 20 weeks since he was born, Colin was able to go home Dec. 20.
Colin at his photo shoot
There was a lot of planning that had to be done before Colin could leave Children’s. With the help of Children’s staff, Jessica and Jerrod felt prepared to care for their third child, which would have different challenges from the other two. As part of Children’s family-centered approach to caregiving, Colin’s parents were able to change diapers, facilitate feeds and comfort their son while at the hospital. This not only helped Colin and his parents feel more connected, but also provided Jessica and Jerrod with the skills to bring him home to complete their family.
The best part of Colin being home is they finally can be a family. Jessica and Jerrod experienced 4½ months of juggling spending time with Colin in the hospital and spending time with their 2- and 4-year-old children at home.
“My husband and I dreamed for 4½ months what it would be like to be a family of five, and it is amazing,” Jessica said. “We love our family and feel so blessed to be together!”
Colin now is more than 7 months old. His favorite things are eating, sleeping, sucking on his hands and fingers, and being entertained by his brother and sister.
As great as he’s doing, Colin still isn’t done with his time at Children’s. Jessica and Jerrod are doing everything they can to keep Colin safe and free from illness. Colin has frequent eye-exam visits (three exams in the past two months) for his retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a common eye disorder in premature births. Over the past few months, Colin has received in-home nurse visits, weekly occupational therapy visits and ear, nose and throat visits. He also visits his primary care provider to get weighed, receive vaccinations and check overall well-being.
On March 13, Colin checked in to Children’s – Minneapolis for surgery. Colin had a bronchoscopy to check his vocal cords and airway, laser eye surgery to stop the progression of ROP and an incisional hernia repair to fix a hernia by one of his stoma incision sites. He had three doctors working on him that day.
During the surgery, the doctors found a paralyzed left vocal cord, a partially paralyzed right vocal cord and narrowing of his airway below his cords. After the surgery, Colin stayed a Children’s for a bit so doctors and nurses could keep an eye on him. He will need to come back for a second bronchoscopy in three months to check on his vocal cords and airway.
“Although Colin's birth and first few months of life were very traumatic and stressful, I still think of Children's on a good note,” Jessica said. “They helped sustain his life when he had very little chance in this outside world because he was born so prematurely. The hardest moments of my life happened at Children's, but they also helped give me one of the greatest gifts – Colin. I will never forget our time at Children’s and can’t wait until we can give back to all the great resources that we used extensively. Colin is a miracle, and we couldn't have done it without our faith, love and the amazing care our son received at Children's hospital.”
If you would like to support Children’s and families like Colin’s, you can make a one-time donation or a monthly donation to help all year long. Your support will provide services like the Ronald McDonald House, which allowed Colin’s family to spend time together as a family for an entire weekend; the sibling play area, where Colin’s siblings, Aiden and Bella, were able to spend time when their parents were taking care of Colin; and the Family Resource Center that assisted Jessica and Jerrod in finding out more about what was happening to their baby.