Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Wee Blessing

Parents Jessica and Robert Harrell feel very blessed.

Jessica says their journey through pregnancy, birth, and their son’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth has been stressful – but caregivers have been at their side to help them through the process.

At Jessica’s five-month OB appointment in August, she and Robert learned their son Kaden had spina bifida, a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. It was a possibility the couple from Covington, TX was aware of -- Robert’s sister and great aunt both had the condition – though their 3-year-old Korbyn doesn’t have it.

“My sister and I were really close,” Robert said. “I used to help her with cooking and with cleaning.”

He has also worked with special needs children and adults at Community Living Concepts in Keene. He feels like past experiences have helped prepare him for being Kaden’s dad.

“We are so blessed to have him. God couldn’t have given him to better parents,” Robert said. “He didn’t give us more than we can handle.”

After Kaden’s diagnosis, Jessica’s care involved maternal fetal medicine specialist Dr. April Bleich and staff from the hospital NICU’s Wee Care team, a program that includes care planning for families whose babies will need extra special care when they’re born. They offer support for families, helping them coordinate with specialists and attending appointments.

“The nurses would call to talk and answer questions, and they knew how to comfort me when I was down,” Jessica said.

On September 25, Jessica learned she was dilated 3 centimeters and had to go on bed rest to avoid going into labor too soon. Kaden was born on October 19 at 31 weeks gestation. It was hard for Jessica to know what to expect the first time she saw him.

“It was scary and shocking. He was bruised because of the way he was in my pelvis, and the opening in his back didn’t have a sac over it like we thought it would.”

“But in the NICU he’s grown so much and gotten so strong,” she said.

Jessica and Robert took little Kaden home on January 11, happy and ready for their family’s next chapter.

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