Austin K. ~ Super Hero Alias: Captain Tenacious
Age: 1 year old
Weight at Birth: 1 lb, 4 ozs
Weeks Gestation: 27 weeks
Time in the NICU: 82 days
Diagnosis, complications, surgeries?
Placed on c-pap at birth, 3 blood transfusions, 1 blood platelet transfusion, a scare of NEC, battled reflux his entire NICU stay
Why should your child be recognized as “Preemie of the Year”?
From the minute he was given the chance to take a breath, Austin was a fighter and everyone in the NICU called him “feisty.” He wasn’t about to let his size get in his way! You see, he may have been born at 27 weeks, but his size was that of a 24 weeker, which added a steeper incline to the mountain he was getting ready to climb. Doctors were not sure how he would respond after being delivered, but with a determination that would surprise even the specialists, Austin let out a strong, brave cry and made sure they knew he was ready to begin his journey! For the next 82 days, c-pap machines, jaundice, blood transfusions, infection scares, iv lines, pic lines, feeding tubes, reflux, heart rate drops and remembering to breathe were Austin’s constant companions, some more of a “kryptonite”, but through it all, he remained strong and kept reaching for his milestones: an ounce gained, oxygen turned down, getting home. If there was ever a question of what the human body could endure, Austin answered them all, and continues to show those around him what a true super hero looks like.
Using three or more typical characteristics of a Super Hero, please describe your child.
Like Captain America’s alter-ego Steve Rogers, Austin started his life a tiny and fragile boy, but showed a determination to prove that despite his size he was strong enough to put up a fight. On his second day in the NICU, he decided he no longer needed his tubes and wires and began to work on removing his feeding tube. With his tiny fist, he took hold of the tube, and with all the grip he could muster, worked and worked and finally pulled the tube from his face along with the tape that was keeping it attached. Talk about tenacious! Next he worked on his c-pap machine and just knew that he didn’t need it! About a week later, Austin had a scare with an intestinal infection and even though the doctors turned off his feeds, placed iv’s and pic lines, he stayed strong and showed his fighting spirit. Even super heroes get weak, however, and need to re-energize, so like Superman’s need for the sun, Austin had 3 blood transfusions and a blood platelet transfusion to help him continue on. And any super hero knows, you can’t make people respect you, you have to earn it, and from the start Austin showed he possessed that characteristic. Afterall, his name means “majestic dignity” and with humbleness and a compassionate heart that has inspired those around him, he happily accepted the responsibility to be a good example to everyone.
What advice do you have for future NICU parents?
Don’t give up. It’s going to be tough and you will have days that seem like they won’t end, but then you reach a milestone whether it be an ounce gained or a smile or simply a day with no bad news, and you regain your strength to fight the next day. Don’t take your frustrations and worries out on your spouse. It’s very easy in situations like these that stress can bubble over and they are the closest punching bag. Instead, make sure your hearts are close to one another, share what you’re feeling so it doesn’t get bottled up to the point of explosion. And even though it may be difficult with the constant back and forth to the hospital, find time for each other, whether it be a dinner date or simply taking a breather together and grabbing a soda from the hospital cafeteria during your daily NICU visits. Bring something with you like a book to read during the times your baby is asleep or a journal to document your baby’s milestones. You will find that the smallest accomplishments are the biggest and you will enjoy going back later and reading about what happened on different days. And lastly, our faith is what got us through, it was the calm in our storm. If you don’t know the Lord, you’ll still make it through of course, but with him you will find a peace that even in the midst of the worst situation you never thought could exist. Whether you believe in God or not, he is always with you and speaking from experience, I cannot stress enough that things in this world just happen, but God is not the one to blame for what is going on and even if the outcome is not what you had wanted, he will get you through it, just hold on!