In our December edition of our Preemie Family newsletter we learned about the amazing Owen Koehler, a preemie born at 28 weeks weighing 1 lb. 6 oz. and who spent 117 lonnnnnng days in the NICU.
Read more in an update by his Mom, Jessica who is also the founder and owner of a great company, Teenie Preemie.
by Jessica Koehler, Owen’s Mom:
Owen spent 117 long days in the NICU. He was born early due to intrauterine growth restriction and I had severe HELLP syndrome. It was by far the scariest day of my life when they told me my 28 week baby was going to be delivered in 48 hours. I was so ill that I was put under general anesthesia when they performed a cesarean section. Owen was only 1 lb. 6 oz. in weight and 12.5 inches in length. I couldn’t believe this tiny baby was mine.
Thankfully Owen had very little “preemie” issues. He only had a small brain bleed and his ROP resolved with no lingering problems. His lungs of course took a long time to heal and he was on everything from a ventilator, to CPAP to nasal cannula, and finally room air. Owen’s biggest NICU hurdle was eating, and not only eating, but eating enough to grow. Turns out Owen had severe reflux while still receiving feedings via nasal gastric tube. When we began trying to feed him orally, he simply refused. By the time the doctors treated the reflux, the damage had been done. For Owen, eating food meant pain instead of pleasure. We played around with his formula choices and reflux meds and finally Owen was ready to come home from the hospital. Right in time for Christmas!
We immediately set him up with our early intervention services and he seemed to thrive in all areas, except eating. It was so incredibly hard on me and my husband that Owen didn’t want to eat. It was the simplest thing we could do to care for him, and he refused. Finally, after struggling for almost a year, we all decided that moving to a gastric tube would be the greatest benefit for Owen. He would receive the nutrition he needed the most, and we wouldn’t be so stressed about oral eating. Well, once we had the gastric tube, Owen’s reflux went out of control. We would feed him and he would vomit half to all of his pumped food. Then his oral skills tanked and we felt even more lost and stressed, and frustrated. Over time we actually worked with a registered dietician and started blending real food for Owen and feeding that via the tube and his vomiting practically stopped. He gained weight, his color returned, the reflux was under control. Finally we had a fully thriving child! Once Owen was tolerating the tube better and gaining weight well, we contacted NoTube.com about weaning him from the tube and getting him to eat orally. With their expertise, we successfully weaned Owen from the gastric tube to eating 100% orally.
Owen is now a thriving 3 year old. With early intervention and a ton of feeding therapy he is catching up to his peers. He has entered preschool and is doing great with his friends and loves to go each day. He is still a very tiny guy at 33 inches and only 24 lbs. But he is our little Napoleon. His joyful outgoing personality is 3x his size. He has the best sense of humor and keeps us laughing daily. Despite his early beginning and rocky early years, he continues to show us that he is our miracle. It is clear to me that Owen was meant to be our baby and he has taught us so much about life, love, and celebrating the smallest milestones. And in his honor, I started my business Teenie Preemie (www.teeniepreemie.com) to celebrate all of the smallest babies from birth and beyond.