Easton | Micro Preemie to Five Years

My fiancé Lane and I were very young when I found out I was pregnant with Easton – I was 19 and he was 20. Our expectations were to have a healthy full-term baby. That’s what any parent hopes for. We dreamed of being able to have Easton room in with us after delivery, having family come visit us to meet him, to be able to take him home when I was discharged.

However, I was barely halfway through my pregnancy when I had him. I had a normal healthy pregnancy (besides the typical morning sickness) up until I was 22 weeks. I woke up one morning just not feeling great. I was in early labor, losing my mucus plug, bleeding, and having contractions. I went to the hospital about three times in the two days before he was born. I kept getting discharged and just told to drink water.

The last time I was discharged it was around 12 a.m. on September 25th; I went home and tried to sleep off the pain. I went to the restroom around 2 a.m. and my water broke while I was sitting on the toilet. My parents and Lane rushed me back to the hospital. Things started to get serious. I just remember the room being hectic with a lot of nurses.

The NICU nurse practitioner came in and talked with us and let us decide if we wanted to do comfort care or give him a chance. Lane and I wanted to give Easton a chance at life. We knew he was meant to be here. He waited until I was a few hours into being 23 weeks to make his way into the world. Twenty-three weeks is considered the point of viability, though with a very small chance of survival. But that small chance gave us hope.

The sweetest nurse who will always have a special place in our hearts prayed over us and cried with us while preparing me for an emergency c-section. At 3:38 a.m. Easton arrived. He came out not breathing so they preformed CPR on him. I woke up in the recovery room to my aunt (a NICU nurse) kissing my head and rubbing my cheeks. I asked “How is my baby?” She told me he is alive and they are working on him in the NICU. Then the beginning of the crazy NICU roller coaster began.

During Easton’s first few months of life everything was very touch and go. He was a very sick little boy. Doctors prepared us several times to say our goodbyes to him, he was just that sick. Easton spent his first month at Joplin Mercy where he was born. About a month into his stay we transferred him to Springfield Mercy where they are more equipped and can provide surgeries.

After being in Springfield for a week or so he started going downhill again. This time was just different though. He would not keep his blood pressure up and his body was shutting down. This is when we were introduced to On Angels’ Wings. Lacie came in and captured the day that our world was turning upside down. It took me forever to look at pictures from that day. Now I am extremely grateful that she captured everything. It is a part of his story and shows just how amazing he is.

God had other plans for our sweet boy; we also received a celebration of life session shortly after he came home from the NICU. And in December of 2019, On Angels’ Wings provided us with a maternity and then a newborn photo shoot for Easton’s baby sister because she is a Sunshine Baby (a sibling born after a medically fragile child, bringing added sunshine into a sometimes difficult journey). We’ve since done another family session and OAW will continue to provide annual pictures for us to capture Easton’s miraculous life.

Easton’s diagnosis has changed the vision of what we thought his life would be – he’s changed our perception of what is normal. We have learned that no two kids are the same. He moves at his own pace and that is okay! You can’t put a timeline on a child. We are learning with him every day. We are learning how to navigate disabilities and how to advocate for him to have the best life possible.

Because Easton was born so early and his body did not get the chance to develop the way that it would have otherwise, he has Hydrocephalus, Eosinophilic esophagitis, Spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, Oropharyngeal dysphagia, Cyclic vomiting syndrome, Nystagmus, and is legally blind. But his diagnoses have changed both Lane and me into better people. It is such a privilege to be able to witness a miracle every day.

It is definitely not all butterflies and rainbows though. We have our days that we are just exhausted mentally and physically. I’ve had to learn how to cope with postpartum depression, anxiety and PTSD. It has been a long road learning how to work on myself and to know that it is okay to be angry and sad at our situation. Everyone has bad days. Seeing Easton do something that we were told he would not be able to do makes everything worth it.

Easton is now nearly five years old. He is the sweetest little boy and is so loving. He works hard in physical, occupational, and speech therapy every week. He is learning how to eat by himself again so hopefully we can ditch his g-tube. He’s starting his second year early childhood so he can thrive even more! My hope and dream for his future is for him to have the best life possible. I want him to be happy and successful in whatever he chooses to do.

By Jessica Nowlin
Mommy to Easton
Micro Preemie born at 23 weeks gestation

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