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Caden’s story

Caden’s first home: 221 days in the NICU

Children’s Minnesota is the first home for newborns who begin life in our neonatal care units. Some only stay with us for a day or two. Others stay for months– like Caden.

Caden had been expected to arrive in the world in August 2019, but when doctors noticed troubling signs at his 24-week ultrasound, Caden’s mom, Morgan, was admitted to the hospital for round-the-clock monitoring. When the fetal heart rate became erratic a few days later, the care team made a decision: the baby would be delivered via c-section as quickly as possible.

Caden was born on May 4, 2019. He was 15 weeks early. Extremely premature, he would need a level of intensive care that not all hospitals can provide. The neonatal team at Children’s Minnesota, home to one of the region’s only Level IV neonatal care units, gave his family hope — and began a long journey.

Caden couldn’t breathe on his own because his respiratory system wasn’t fully developed. Doctors and respiratory therapists helped him do that, constantly monitoring the fragile newborn’s oxygen level and spurring the growth of his not-yet-ready lungs. He also hadn’t yet developed reflexes like sucking and swallowing, so the neonatal care team outfitted him with a feeding tube to give him the nourishment he needed.

Like many extremely premature babies, Caden was susceptible to infections; he battled pneumonia and other complications. He also needed surgery; doctors at Children’s Minnesota operated on his tiny eyes to correct a retinal problem common in preemies.

Caden, a little boy, smiling on a quiltHis care team also supported his development with music therapy, weekly book deliveries (Caden’s mom loved reading to him even when she couldn’t hold him) and neonatal massage.

Caden stayed at Children’s Minnesota for 221 days. More than 30 weeks. Nearly 8 months. Just before Christmas last year, he “graduated” from the infant care center, leaving the place that had been his first home. His parents were thrilled to take him home, to show Caden the nursery that had been waiting for him for so long and to simply be together.

His family is forever grateful for the care they received. They’re grateful for the hope they were given, the peace they felt on so many nights, and the joy that Caden brings to their lives every day.

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