SAN DIEGO – The birth and homecoming of a baby is always a very special time for any family, but for one couple whose son spent more than 126 days (a little more than four months) in Naval Medical Center San Diego’s (NMCSD) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), taking him home for the first time on Valentine’s Day made his discharge even better.
Jayce Odin Boelk, son of Marine Cpl. Monica Lovings and former Marine Cpl. Allen Boelk, was born on Oct. 11, 2012 weighing 13 ounces and measuring 10.25 inches, making him the smallest known baby born at NMCSD, according to NICU staff.
Micro preemies like Jayce, who are born at less than 28 weeks and weighing 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds) or less, are prone to numerous medical issues including apnea of prematurity (short periods of stopped breathing), jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) and other such challenging situations requiring expert medical treatments.
NMCSD’s NICU cares for approximately 550 premature babies annually. Micro preemies are kept in the NICU until their original due date of 40 weeks gestation to ensure these babies can breathe on their own, maintain their own body temperature in a crib, eat successfully from a bottle or breast feed and gain weight prior to being discharged.
“I am very proud of my staff for helping take care of this baby and helping him survive,” said Cmdr. (Dr.) Eileen M. Hoke, NMCSD’s NICU director.
Despite his small size, Jayce overcame all these medical hurdles and was finally able make the long-anticipated journey home Feb. 14.
Although watching her tiny son struggle to survive was an emotional experience, Lovings said there was a silver lining in the experience.
“Taking our son home on Valentine’s Day is awesome; we thought this day would never come,” said Lovings. “The NICU staff gave us hope… they gave us the best support possible they were definitely on his side,” she added.