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At 27 weeks, Joey made his appearance on a snowy evening the night before Thanksgiving.

On the Monday before, my doctor received lab results that indicated severe preeclampsia. She told me to leave work immediately. I was lucky I did. My nurse struggled to keep me stable while the steroids gave Joey’s lungs their best chance. With a blood pressure of 212/180, the staff ran me to the operating room just as I completed the 48-hour steroid window. I braced myself for a silent birth, knowing his lungs would probably not support the cry that I would normally expect to hear. But Joey gave a hearty cry and you could feel the operating room relax. The team was able to stop next to me for a moment so I could see my Joey before he and my husband were taken away. I would not see Joey again for 26 hours. I would not hold him for 7 days.

On Joey’s first day, he was ventilated and treated for jaundice. Day 2 brought more challenges with a pneumothorax and chest tube. Before he “graduated” he also needed hernia surgery, two blood transfusions, and a lot of caffeine.

Everyone describes the NICU as a rollercoaster. For us, the rollercoaster was centered around his breathing. The movement from a ventilator to a CPAP, back to a ventilator, back to CPAP and all of the daily adjustments in between were hard to bear.

After 92 days, our nurse called. She said Joey told her “He wanted to go home.” It was the happiest day of my life.
After the NICU, Joey figured out how to breastfeed! Although he spent his first year in physical therapy, he is now an energetic four-year-old who loves Legos, chasing his older brother and seems to have no lasting effects from his early arrival.

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