You may not know it but there are several families at CGS that have NICU stories. Stories that stem from their child or grandchild being born early and facing struggles due to premature birth. Mrs. Jennifer Cox agreed to share her personal experience with her grandson Mason.

Also, don’t forget that our Student Council is collecting cash donations and new board books in support of the Family Support Network of Central Carolina. Come shop our book fair or check us out online.

My family’s life changed dramatically on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  My daughter and son-in-law were living with us and my daughter began to complain about her back hurting.  She was only 27 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  Since this was during the weekend, we took her to the hospital for a wellness check.  After the doctor checked her out, he spoke with me and stated that she was in labor and for me to call in the family as he did not know how this delivery would turn out.  I immediately went into panic mode and called our family and my son-in-law’s family to the hospital.  The hospital moved us to the most significant delivery room available so the family could gather around my daughter during labor.   

 After several hours of labor, she delivered a tiny little boy weighing only 2 pounds and 5 ounces. Our precious angel, Mason, was born with God’s special grace.  He was immediately rushed to Duke University with God and our family looking out for him.

My husband and I stayed with our daughter while our son-in-law and his parents went to Duke Hospital to be with Mason.  My daughter never received a bow on the door, congratulations, or anything as the nurses and doctor did not know if our precious Angel would make it through this difficult time.  There are many risks that premature babies face, and sadly all outcomes are not favorable. Mason was immediately flown to Duke and entered the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).  Below is a photo of the first time his daddy got to see him.

This began our long journey of having a preemie baby.  For the next 85 days, Mason was in the NICU and the protected incubator. Our entire family was in survival mode.  The first time we saw him, we could not believe how small he was.  He had tubes coming out of his mouth and nose and was hooked up to heart and oxygen monitors.  He had an IV in.  It was so much more terrifying than we could have ever imagined.  Every day we prayed for his survival.  

The NICU staff of nurses and doctors were our early angels.  They immediately calmed everyone and reassured us that although he was sick and 3 months early, Mason was in the very best of hands.  They did not make false promises that he would be okay but they were very confident that his breathing difficulties and appearance were consistent with that of a baby born at 27 weeks 5 days.  

We learned so much.  We learned about intubation, weak lungs, heart complications, feeding tubes, and how to read an oxygen machine.  Every day a new struggle would present itself and we prayed that Mason would survive.    He was so small and fragile that each new hurdle was a true fight for survival.

For the next 5 months, we had a routine in place and ran on adrenaline.  We would go daily to visit with Mason just so he could hear our voices and become familiar with his family.

 Three months after he was born, on December 19, 2012, Mason had to have a tracheostomy.  This is an opening surgically created through the neck into the windpipe (trachea) to allow direct access to the breathing tube.  Mason’s airway would collapse (picture a straw with a hole in it and you try to drink through it and it collapses).  

Mason was able to come home on January 24, 2013.  It was the most exciting and scariest time for all of us.  He had to have round-the-clock nursing care at home over the next 4 years.    He had physical therapy, occupational therapy, and basically a hospital room at home.  

Mason has gone through several surgeries, doctor’s appointments, and numerous issues throughout his journey.  He is now thriving, but being born premature means he will need extra help for a while.  Our journey in the NICU did not end with him coming home.  We are all overprotective of him, consistently ensuring he has everything he needs to be successful in his day-to-day life in and out of school.  We protect him from the stares, pointing, and extra focus on him because we do not want him to feel anything but normal.  Sadly, some people see the scars and don’t know how much this young man has gone through and overcame. 

Our Mason is now 9 years old, in 2nd grade, and had his trach removed in September 2020.  Although he still has several breathing difficulties, he is our shining light with a smile on his face consistently.