Kooper Coake, portraitIn their words

Ashley Coake
Green, Iowa

I went into labor 4 weeks and 1 day early. Kooper was born with breathing difficulty, as well as a possibility of seizure activity. He was transferred from a hospital in Mason City, Iowa.

Our little guy, Kooper, was born barely premature, but premature enough that his lungs were not fully developed. When he was first born he was immediately intubated. Within a few hours the doctors and nurses had a meeting with me and my husband about how they felt he was having seizures and they were not equipped to handle it. I immediately said I wanted him to be taken to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital. Our daughter is a patient of the neurosurgery department and I knew, with all of my heart, that I did not want our baby to be treated anywhere else. 

Within a few hours the UI ambulance crew greeted us and loaded Kooper up for his first car ride. My husband followed the ambulance to Iowa City. The ambulance staff was AMAZING. They were kind and caring. They talked to me like a woman who had just had a baby, and not in terms I did not understand. I was discharged a few hours later and headed to Iowa City. I had no idea what to expect when I got there. Was our baby going to be there for a long time? Christmas was only a few weeks away, and we had a 1-year-old at home, how was that going to play out? I was scared. I was sad. And I was worried. 

When I got to the hospital, I couldn't believe the greeting I received. I was immediately introduced to Kooper's team of nurses and was able to speak to a doctor. Kooper was being monitored closely, and seizures were ruled out within a day, but the team found that his temperature was dropping, his breathing was still off, and he could not take a bottle. We were there for three weeks, and in that time we worked through phases to graduate Kooper out of NICU. In those three weeks I made close friends with Kooper's nurses and were treated like gold by everyone. Santa even made his rounds to the new babies. 

Even though life wasn't normal, they were trying to make it a normal for us. The nurses genuinely loved Kooper. They wanted him to be better and wanted to also educate me on keeping him healthy in terms of being a premature baby. Christmas was different, but they tried to make it normal. The nurses shared their food from home with me and shared their tears with me. They welcomed my toddler in with open arms so we could have family Christmas. The entire hospital and their partners spoiled us. 

The day we left, I cried. I cried because of the amazing care we received and the friendships I had made. We have continued to work with the children's hospital and are being followed by pulmonology. I can't say enough about the hospital and what they have done for our family. They saved our little guy from so much.

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