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NICU

Miracle Baby Goes Home after 120 Days in NICU

Published in the June 2023 Issue Published online: Jun 12, 2023 Health & Wellness
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By Brian Ziel 

Some babies enter the world a little early. Baby Cole decided to take that to the extreme with his arrival on Nov. 21 at Mountain View Hospital. He was born at just 22 weeks old – more than 4 months before his due date.

During a regular prenatal checkup, Cole’s mom, Christina Sheppard, ended up being hospitalized because of high blood pressure. Doctors tried to stabilize her and prevent an early delivery but a few days later, she was having an emergency c-section.

“Your mind goes to a lot of dark places, but we put a lot of trust in the doctors and the staff,” said dad Joshua Sheppard.

Cole weighed less than a pound when he was born and was approximately the size of a can of soda. His heart, lung, brain and other vital organs were still developing and made his chances of survival questionable. Fortunately, Cole was born a fighter.

“Cole is one of Idaho’s youngest preterm labor survivors but he faced a lot of challenges when he was born,” said neonatologist Dr. John Harvey. “Sadly, some NICU’s don’t even try to provide care for babies as young as 22 weeks because their chances of survival are still rare. Fortunately, Mountain View Hospital believes in giving every child a fighting chance and the best care possible.”

It took around-the-clock care to keep Cole alive. A team of neonatologists, nurses, nurse assistants, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, occupational therapy, dieticians and social workers all worked with Cole and his family to give him the support he needed to thrive.

“They care for your baby as if it’s their own,” said Joshua.

In fact, during the first week of Cole’s life, many of the nurses who helped with his delivery chose to stay at the hospital to care for him. They wanted Cole’s team to remain consistent during those critical early days, so any changes in his condition were caught early.

“Our entire team wanted Cole to live. We knew he was his family’s last chance baby and we wanted to give them the miracle they deserved,” said Brandi Klinger, Mountain View Hospital’s NICU nurse manager. “It has been an honor to care for Cole and his parents. We become very attached to the babies and families we care for in our NICU and this only becomes truer the more time we get to spend with them.”

While Cole’s journey was not always straightforward, he did keep getting stronger.

“They have given us the greatest gift. They have given us our family,” said Christina. “This process has been so hard but all of the nurses, doctors and staff, everyone has gone so far above and beyond anything we could have ever asked.”  

The team at Mountain View Hospital did more than provide care for Cole. They brought joy to the family and celebrated each milestone alongside them, including photos with Cole and Dr. Harvey dressed as Santa at Christmas time and a huge party when Cole turned 100 days old. The team even decorated his isolette for the occasion and dressed Cole up like an old man.

“For as hard as it has been, it has been an absolute blessing,” said Christina.

After 120 days in Mountain View Hospital’s NICU, Cole was finally able to go home with his parents on his scheduled delivery date.

“It feels like I’ve been holding my breath for four months, so I’m excited to bring our kid home,” said Joshua.

“It’s so moving and exciting and absolutely terrifying,” said Christina. “For the last 4 months, other people have loved him and cared for him and now we get the opportunity.”

Despite the odds, Cole left the hospital in March a strong, healthy baby with a full life ahead of him.

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