After spending over four months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Patrick LaFraniere finally came home after weighing a mere 1 pound, 3.7 ounces at birth.
“When we brought him home, after 124 days in the NICU, he was like a newborn in size,” says mom Meghan LaFraniere. “It’s a miracle.”
Meghan LaFraniere experienced heavy bleeding early in her pregnancy due to placental abruption. The condition is caused by a gradual separation of the placenta from the uterus before childbirth.
According to Jeff Chapa, MD, who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine at Cleveland Clinic, the condition can be life-threatening for the baby and mother.
“In these situations, you really try to put yourself in [the patient’s] shoes and be honest with her,” explains Dr. Chapa. “She had to consider the risks involved, because her health as well as the baby’s could be compromised.”
Meghan LaFraniere was determined to give her unborn baby a chance at life. She was admitted to Fairview Hospital and continued to receive treatment and monitor the baby’s health.
The long road to recovery began after the new mom gave birth to a baby boy just after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Jennifer Stefanich, a pediatric nurse, was one of many caregivers in the operating room for the delivery. She recalls, Patrick was “so very small and fragile. He was right at our low limit, size-wise and gestationally-wise.”
The newborn received hydration, was placed on a ventilator, and given food through his belly button, according to Cleveland Clinic.
After 15 days, Meghan and her husband, Frank, were finally able to hold their baby. “We’re used to seeing babies this small, but it’s shocking for the parents. We show it’s OK to touch them. It’s just that everything is so tiny.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the couple’s three other children, Elizabeth, 12, Lucille, 10, and Timothy, 3, were unable to visit their new baby brother.
Patrick stayed resilient, and continued to grow throughout his hospital stay. With the help of dozens of caregivers, including doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and physical and occupational therapists, Patrick was able to go home weighing a hearty 7 pounds, 9 ounces.
Meghan says, “His homecoming was beautiful. Four months old, and his siblings got to meet him! We’re feeling nothing but happiness.”