Sunday, May 4, 2014

Babies and Blessings

This is my cute little nephew Sawyer.  He is a stinker, like all my sister's kids, and he decided to come early. As it turns out, an early birth was a good thing.  This little guy was born with pneumonia.  The doctor that worked with him at Children's Hospital, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said that most babies with this same condition are typically stillborn.  

When Sawyer was born he seemed healthy.  When he breathed his rib cage would suck in a bit, they call it retracting, but the nurses just suctioned him every once in a while and at one point gave him a little oxygen.  The doctor wasn't worried and everyone got to hold new baby Sawyer.  After some time though, they noticed that his breathing didn't improve.  He sounded more like he was wheezing than breathing.  The nurse came in to do his footprints.  While she was washing his feet off, he stopped breathing altogether and turned blue.  The medical staff worked feverishly to resuscitate him, and thankfully they were able to.  They began treating him for pneumonia, because there was fluid in his lungs.  

Shortly after that the attending doctors decided he needed to be life-flighted to Minneapolis to the children's hospital up there to get the help he needed.  My sister Kallie had delivered via c-section so she had to stay in her hometown hospital recovering while the baby was transported hundreds of miles away.  Grandma left that moment with older brother and sister, dropping them off with me when she got to the cities, then met the baby at Children's Hospital Minneapolis.  

This all happened last December.  It was quite a traumatic time for the whole family.  I suppose that is why I haven't been able to write about it until now.  Seeing sweet baby Sawyer lying there all taped and corded, when he should have been being snuggled was so heartbreaking.

Sawyer wasn't super premature.  He was born only two weeks before his due date.  Coming in at 6 lbs 9 oz and 19 inches long Sawyer was born a good sized baby, but his lungs were just not in good shape.  

I have nothing but fabulous things to say about the staff and facilities at Children's.  They were kind, organized, and very good at what they did. Each medical procedure was explained so we could understand it.  Really, I can't think of one thing they could have done to make the two week hospital stay easier on the family.  Every couple days I brought older brother and sister to stay a night or two at the hospital, then took them back home with me.  Children's had so many places for them to play while they were there.  The kids enjoyed sibling care, arts and crafts, various volunteer entertainers and even a teacher on staff to help my kindergartner nephew keep up with his school work.

Day after day we waited to hear of any bit of improvement.  I remember it feeling more like months he spent in the hospital, rather than weeks.  Slowly that handsome baby boy got stronger and was able to fight the infection that had consumed his lungs.  Once Sawyer was feeling better, the staff shifted gears in an effort to get him home.  Sawyer needed to be able to breath and feed on his own before he would be discharged.

Brother and sister were so excited when they could come into the NICU and see baby Sawyer.  Because sister was under 5, and it was at the height of cold and flu season, she was only allowed one visit during the whole hospital stay.

The day that Sawyer could be held was exciting for all of us.  Emmalee got one special visit to see her new cousin.  

As you can see, Madison was more than ecstatic as well.

I really wanted to share just a bit of our experience with the Ronald McDonald House.   Since childhood I have been hearing about the foundation, but before this hospital stay I had never really known much about them.  I can tell you now that I have experienced first hand the gracious blessing available through the Ronald McDonald House, thanks to so many kind hearted people.  The Ronald McDonald House organization is worthy of every penny you ever have donated and I hope Americans everywhere will continue to contribute.  
It was bright and clean, warm and inviting.  There were comfortable places to sit, a lovely homey atmosphere to unwind in after long days and nights in the hospital room.  The kids were totally welcome and had a blast playing there.  

Here is what the website has to say about it:

In terms of square footage, the new House is the largest inside the hospital facility within Ronald McDonald House Charities, occupying 8,500 square feet of space. The Ronald McDonald House inside the Hospital is designed to serve families with a child in Intensive Care as well as the other most critical cases throughout the hospital. This new program is innovative, monumental and only the 5th Ronald McDonald House inside a Hospital program in the world. With no geographic requirement, this significant endeavor speaks to our ongoing commitment to serve local families.


  • 16 private rooms with bedrooms and showers
  • In-room Internet, TV/DVD players, phone with hospital extensions
  • Full kitchen with snacks, beverages and cooking facilities
  • Laundry facilities
  • Living room and lounge space with a TV
  • A quiet space, computer lab with internet access
  • Exercise facilities
  • Outside patio
Eligibility and usage of the rooms will be determined on a nightly basis by Children's staff.
It was a huge relief to have the RM House to ease the emotional strain on the family.  The bedrooms were full at the time, but the hospital provided a room at a nearby hotel until there was availability at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, the one not attached to the hospital.  The family was welcome to use the other facilities at any time during the hospital stay.

These are pictures of the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Minneapolis.  
Even more amazing.  Seriously.  It blew-my-mind. 

The day my kids and I came to visit there were piles of presents {since it was Christmas time} that the kids could pick from.  Some families had been there for days, some months or even years while their children were fighting for life in the hospital.  

Volunteers brought dinner every night in both of the houses to feed the families.

This is my sister Katrina's boyfriend.  He hopped right in and washed dishes after dinner.  

There were places to sit and work, eat, relax and talk or watch tv.

Uh, check out this play castle.  It had two floors!  The thing was fully stocked like a real house, all for the little munchkins to play in.

The whole place was decorated for Christmas so these families, though they were not at home, could still enjoy the holidays.

Around every corner was another kitchen families could use.  What a blessing.  Food can be a huge financial hardship when you are in the hospital for months.  The opportunity to cook their own food makes the financial burden on families less, along with improving the quality of their food.  Even a week of eating out constantly makes me sick.  This is amazing!

The outside areas were covered in snow, but what fun they will be this time of year with nature waking up with Spring.

I will forever be grateful for the Ronald McDonald organization for taking the time to make this all possible.  When I think back on the whole hospital ordeal, were it now for the RM House and all it had available...well, I really don't know how Kallie and them would have made it through.

At the end of the hospital visit, Kallie came by my house for a little photo shoot before heading for home.  Thanks to the wonderful care at Children's Hospital of Minneapolis and all of it's amazing employees and volunteers, Sawyer was able to make it home for Christmas.

And that brings me to the last two weeks.  

We had gone down for Easter to see.  We played with all the cousins and with smiley Sawyer every second we could...
but just a couple days after we got back home, Sawyer went into the hospital again.  Though he was discharged the next day, he ended up right back in the ER that night, and then was taken back to Children's via ambulance.  Big sister came back to my house, and we all held our breath hoping the doctor's could find out what was wrong with our little guy.  

Poor baby.  Sawyer could hardly cry, his throat was so dried out from the oxygen.  I couldn't believe I had bounced and smiled and tickled that little guy just a couple days earlier.  Tests were run while they treated his viral infection.  He had pneumonia again, along with bronchitis.  Many days and payers later Sawyer started to improve.

He was awake more and smiling more.

And loving his brother and sister again.  

With the damage Sawyer had to his lungs before he was ever born, I am afraid he has a long life of illness ahead of him.  Luckily, he has a fabulous family that loves him and will make sure he is well cared for.  

One really sad thing, Kallie recognized a mother of a sick child she had met during the first hospital stay.  As she talked with the woman Kallie learned the mother's poor child was STILL in the hospital.  They had been there for 11 months, actually.  What a sad thing to have a child spend a whole year + in the hospital, and the mother or father sitting there each and every day hoping for a good turn.  It just makes me even more grateful for the Ronald McDonald House and the work that is done there.  When your family is in crisis, every bit of help is such a relief.

As for little Sawyer, his Auntie Nessa is just happy to see his smiles again.  

You know I AM his favorite person ever, right?  

I am sure my name will be the first word out of his lips.
I thank heaven this baby is here today.  
It is just one more marvel thanks to the blessing of modern medicine.


  1. What an incredible story. Thanks for sharing! Sawyer is a cutie!

  2. Thanks for reading! He is adorable. These pictures don't even touch on how cute he is. Have a great day Jennifer!




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