When little Jayce Connor Parker makes his journey home to Williams Lake next month he’ll arrive here around his due date.
Born on Dec. 26 at Cariboo Memorial Hospital at 25.5 weeks gestation and weighing one pound, 13 ounces, Jayce has spent the last three months at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
On March 19, his mom Megan Ward, 24, said her son was doing really well and is breathing completely on his own.
The next step, she says, is learning how to feed.
Up until now he’s had a feeding tube directly down his throat to his stomach. She’s been expressing milk every day, which is then poured down a vial into the tube, and he’s had formula to augment what she can provide.
He now weighs five pounds, two ounces, which is a long way from December.
“He was a little guy, pretty much the size of my hand. His arms and legs were about as round as a pinky finger,” Ward recalls, adding the first week she cried every time she saw him and wondered how he would survive because he was so tiny.
Within 45 minutes of an emergency caesarian section Jayce and Ward were transported by air ambulance to Vancouver.
Upon arrival, Ward and her partner Drew Parker were told their son had a 50/50 chance.
“It really depended on him and his will to survive,” Ward notes, adding his lungs were very damaged. After they incubated him they had to stick a tube down his throat to help him breath.
The tube, however, created scar tissue and made his lungs very stiff, not elastic like most babies’ lungs.
He was on that breathing tube for two months and on a machine that vibrated non-stop to help release C02, Ward says.
“It was odd, especially when you’d go in to touch him and he was shaking. It was very uncomfortable and you could tell he didn’t enjoy it at all.”
When he was able to graduate to using a breathing mask, she was thankful.
Jayce also experienced heart problems. His pulmonary diastolic artery didn’t close when he was born and fluids were rushing into his lungs.
He was medicated in hopes that it would close. When it didn’t close up right away, the doctors waited a couple of weeks. Eventually it closed enough that they weren’t worried, and then it closed right up on its own.
“There was a chance he was going to have surgery on it, but thankfully that’s no longer an issue,” Ward says.
Intestinal problems also abounded, with blood in his stools. His health digressed to a point where his parents would lift his arm and he would let it drop because he was so exhausted.
He even developed the start of pneumonia in the upper lobe of his lungs. However, the medication they used for his intestines also helped his lungs.
Once he was over those two humps he began to make strides.
Ward does recall a day where the doctor pulled her and Drew aside and said she wasn’t telling them to call a priest right away, but it wasn’t looking very good.
But after that conversation, Jayce did an upward climb, proved the doctor wrong and showed her he was here to fight.
In fact, there were many times throughout the first few months where the doctor would predict how things were going to transpire, and Jayce would do the opposite.
“It was almost like reverse psychology,” Ward suggests.
Describing the experience as a roller-coaster ride, riddled with ups and downs, Ward believes it has made her a stronger person.
She never imagined going through something like this and says it’s made her very grateful for her family.
“It brings a whole new light to motherhood. That overwhelming love you have for your kids. It’s pretty hard to see your child in that situation. You just want to trade places with them and take away their pain,” says Ward, a first-time mom.
The experience has been difficult, yet now that it’s almost coming to an end, and the family can head home, Ward’s feeling relieved.
Looking back Ward figures because Jayce was born on Boxing Day that’s made him a toughie from the very beginning.
“He’s a fighter, that’s for sure,” she says.
ScotiaBank employees in Williams Lake fundraised $1,426 for the family through a raffle, with prints donated by local artist Randi Evans won by Duane Wycotte and a hockey package won by Mark Taylor.
Ward’s mom, Margaret Ward, works at the bank and says they also received a big donation from an anonymous donor.
“The support from the community has been unbelievable,” she says.