A Quick View of Harris’ First Year…

When the Mama had to deliver Harris due to Pre-eclampsia/HELLP we had a lot to worry about. The ultrasounds showed he was very small and he had pretty much stopped growing for a month. Would he be developed to 22 weeks as his size showed or would he have the organ development of the 27 weeker he was. Thankfully, when they pulled him out of the Mama he cried! He was developed farther along than his size showed. He started out just under 15 ounces, but by his second day he dropped down to 13 ounces.  It is normal for newborns to lose a couple ounces, but for Harris it made things that much more critical.  The first 48 hours seemed to last an eternity.


He did well for about 6 days and then a hole formed in his bowels spilling fecal matter throughout his abdomen. He was Life Flighted to U of MI for surgery. The boy was fighting but getting very weak. He survived the surgery, then the hard stuff began. 4 different occasions doctors told us he was dying and to get ready for it. We wouldn’t believe it at all. It hurt to hear and tons of tears were shed, especially by the Mama, but we were determined to NEVER give up on our son. We stayed in Ann Arbor for 2 days and then had to return to Battle Creek with plans of returning a day later…that night call #1 came: “You need to come back as soon as you can because Harris probably won’t make it through the night.” We flew as fast as we could down that highway to get to him, crying and praying the entire way.

When we arrived he was in a bad way. His heart rate was up to 211 beats a minute, his blood pressure was very low, his blood oxygen level was falling fast…it looked hopeless, then I touched him. As soon as the Mama put her hand on his teeny tiny forehead and gently spoke to him, “hey honey, mama’s here; I love you…” his heart rate instantly dropped to 160’s, his blood pressure came up to a better rate, and his oxygen level came up! That was when we realized just what is meant by holding someone’s life in your hands. One of us or the both of us were with Harris everyday for hours. While in Ann Arbor we were with him 12-16 hours a day. He developed terrible fungal and bacterial infections that almost killed him, and at one point the doctors thought he had either collapsed his lungs or developed Pneumonia and was dying – of course, he made it through!


Thumb on Forehead

Harris underwent 6 surgeries during his first few months of life; was on the ventilator to breathe from 3/28/00 to 7/20/00. He was on supportive oxygen with a nasal cannula from 7/20/00 to 3/06/01. He came home on 10/3/00 on lots of meds, breathing treatments, and oxygen. The meds and breathing treatments had to be given around the clock, feedings every 3 hours with a bottle/mama/N.G. tube; he was on the oxygen all the time and would turn blue almost immediately if he took off his oxygen…We had to continually check his cannula placement and oxygen tanks. Very little sleep….. But worth it for Harris to be home.

Slowly but surely Harris showed signs of improvement. He finally came off of all his medications in December. Life seemed a bit more normal.

A big day was when Harris finally completely got off the oxygen support on 3/6/01! No more tubes to trip over!

His first birthday was a few weeks later on 3/28/01. At this point he is considered to be between 5
to 6 months developmentally and improving daily. The Doctors say he will catch up to other children by the time he is 3 to 5 years old. Amazingly, after all that Harris has been through he is expected to have no lasting effects from his prematurity. A few years down the road and no one will be able to tell this ordeal ever happened.