On Wednesday July 23, 2014, Max's mom, Bekah, went to the doctor for a regular appointment. She felt great and was working full time. As soon as she got to the appointment it was very evident that something was wrong, the nurses told her that her blood pressure was at stroke level. They did an ultrasound, and things looked okay. The doctor explained that she was going to need to go to the hospital for a couple of days and have some tests done. Once they got to the hospital her blood pressure was even higher and protein was spilling into her urine. Bekah was put on a magnesium drip, which made her very sick. Over the next 36 hours there were lots of ultrasounds, conversations with a Neonatologist about the NICU and how it would be a very long stay. Both of his parents were in denial. Maximus still needed 15 weeks of development in utero. On Friday July 25th, the high risk doctor decided that both Bekah and Max were doing so poorly that it was time to deliver Max via c-section.
Maximus Jose came into the world at 10:35 am. He didn't make sound; he was intubated immediately and taken to the NICU right away. Bekah did not even get to see him. He weighed 1 lb. 7 oz. and was 13 inches long. His father, Tony, got to visit him a couple of hours later but Bekah was doing very poorly still.
Twenty-four hours after Max was born, his mother finally got to meet him. He was so tiny, frail, and hooked up to so many machines. His parents had never seen a baby that small before. It was so scary!
When he was 2 weeks old Bekah got to hold him for the first time; she held him for 3 hours! The next day, things took a turn for the worst. Max's PDA valve (in his heart) did not close when he was born, which caused a lot of problems. The doctors tried to close it with three different rounds of medication. Nothing worked and he worsened. By this time, Max was on an oscillator. The day he turned 1 month old he had his first major operation to close the PDA valve. He weighed just over 2 lbs at that time. The ligation was successful and he started to improve right away. But the following, Maximus was found to have two infections and was moved to an isolation area of the NICU.
After the infections cleared up things started to look a little better. He started to gain weight and at 6 weeks old he was finally able to be extubated and go on to a CPAP. But at 8 weeks, Maximus was considered to be failing to thrive. He was put on different types of fortifiers to help him gain weight.
Bekah and Tony would visit during the day and every evening for a long visit. In the evening they were able to have Kangaroo time, give Max baths and discuss the day with the nurses. Bekah says, “We grew very attached to the night shift nurses! We both work full time and had to take care of Max's big sister, Matilda who was 3 years old.”
Little by little Maximus started to gain weight but still had many ups and downs. He went to a high flow cannula and was on it for a couple of days before having to go back to the CPAP. Ten days later he went back on the cannula and stayed on it for about five weeks.
The last thing Max had to do to go home was be able to feed. Max starting taking bottles a couple of times a day and was doing great with it. By this time he was past his 100 days and past his due date, so Max's parents thought he would be coming home very soon. Little did they know he still would have another month in the NICU.
Mid November Max had a standard bi-weekly eye exam that revealed he had stage 3 ROP (retinopathy of prematurity). He had to go to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in an ambulance and have laser eye surgery. Tony and Bekah were very discouraged. Max had surgery on November 17. Everything went perfeclyt and he was back in Chattanooga in his NICU 2 days later.
After 136 days in the NICU, on December 8th, 2014 Maximus left the hospital and went home! When he left he was completely tube and medicine free. His family was very excited but very cautious. On Valentine’s Day, Max went back to the hospital with RSV. He was very lucky and only ended up being there 3 days.
There have been a lot of ups and downs but Max has come so far. He is 16 months old and weighs 19 lbs! Other than his weak lungs and delays due to be extremely premature he is doing fantastic. Bekah says, “Children's Hospital at Erlanger saved Max's life and helped him grow in the most critical time of his life!”