Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hit the Road, Jack

119 days after his surprise arrival into the world, Jack found out there is a world outside the Missoula NICU. That's right, Jack left the hospital on Friday and came back with us to Helena! We didn't know for sure whether it would be Friday or sometime later, but nothing could have made Jessi's birthday any happier than going back home to Clancy with a baby in her arms (car seat, actually).

It had been an eventful week even without the final trip home: Jack passed his car seat test, fulfilled a Law of Moses requirement (circumcision), passed his hearing test, improved on his eye test, gained some weight and went without any apnea spells. It was like finals week at the end of a semester at school, and Jack graduated with honors.

Since his day of birth was more like a nightmare, finally taking him home was such a wonderful event - even if it did bring on some pretty serious nervous feelings for Jessi and I. Not only were we bringing Jack home, but we felt like we were taking half of the NICU hardware with us. For at least the near future (months, not weeks), Jack will be on home oxygen, an apnea monitor, medications, and have frequent spot checks for oxygen saturation in his blood. Unfortunately, we were unable to kidnap one of the NICU nurses who are used to all that good stuff. Jessi and I feel like we got the Sally Struthers "NICU Basics" correspondence course. Jack is so high maintenance.

The timing was also interesting because the hospital just got it's first confirmed cases of the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This was just an unsettling reminder of some of the deadly killers of preemie babies. Due to Jack's lack of an immune system and his chronic lung disease (from being on the ventilator for two months), any one of these viruses could do him in. As you all know, anyone can be a carrier of these things without even showing signs of it, much less know about it. In short, people are disease incubators. That is why the doctors have prescribed Jack his new name: Bubble Boy. He won't live in a real life bubble - just an imaginary one that restricts visitors at the Bennion household and trips out into dense public places (stores, church, etc...).

Unfortunately, this means that most of you probably won't even meet Jack for quite some time.
I will continue to write update, but they will be less frequent. We are also considering new, high tech, germ-free ways to show off Jack (more to come on that later). As I said in an early update, we want everyone to "know Jack."

This new reclusive lifestyle will be hard on Jessi and I. We want nothing more than to share Jack with friends, family and everyone else who has followed his progress during the past four months. On the other hand, we've worked so hard to get him to this point, we aren't going to stop following doctor's orders (i.e. no visitors, pop-ins, etc...) now. If you aren't familiar with extremely low birth weight preemies, all of this may sound a tad bit extreme. But the whole theory of exposing little kids to all sorts of things early so they can build up their immune systems doesn't quite apply to Jack. You may see me out and about, or Jessi out as well, but it will always be just one of us while the other stays at home with Jack. So begins our tenure as the Hermits of Helena, but we'll do anything to get him healthy.

Don't get me wrong - we are so happy to have Jack home all to ourselves. Our dog, Daisy, got to meet him for the first time yesterday. We weren't quite sure if we would be able to keep her given Jack's issues, but the doctor (also a golden retriever owner) gave us the go ahead. We showed up to our house in Clancy with a nicely decorated baby room and a nice clean house (thanks to both our parents).

We are indebted to all of you for your prayers, support, offers to help out and your participation in the Jack cheering section. You have made this past four months not just bearable, but special. Miracles do happen - we know because we took one home on Friday.

Jon, Jessi and Jack

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Lauren said...

Congratulations on Jack coming home! What a fabulous birthday present for Jessi. Hang in there and know that you're still in our thoughts and prayers. We love you guys!

Tami said...

YAYYYYYYYY!!! I am so excited for y'all!!!! What a special and memorable day - thank you for sharing it with us! It looks like Jack doesn't need the NG tube - awesome!

We didn't take Cayden anywhere except to doctor appointments until almost three months after he came home. We are in month four and those trips are stopping due to the cold/flu/RSV season.

I wish and will pray for Jack to continue growing and getting stronger and healthier. You'll see - he'll take off like a weed now that he is home.

EEEK!! I'm so excited y'all. *hugs*

Brandi said...

Yahoo!!! We all knew this day would come!! So happy for you all, home together. So special! We will never stop praying for him!! All our love.

katieoz said...

That is supremely wonderful! Praying for you guys as you enter this new leg of your journey!

Debbie said...

that is soooo exciting! He looks so adorable in his carseat. He's grown so much! (and his room is so cute!)

Barbara said...

Ah, the nursery turned out great! I love it. I'm so glad you are all home with Jack. And, I'm eager to hear about all of your cooking experiments!

Lindsay said...

Congratulations on this HUGE milestone- taking Jack home from the NICU! p.s. His nursery is decorated so nicely! Very boyish and stylish. :)