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Salmon Arm family marks 100 days in NICU after premature birth of first child

Baby has 100 day NICU stay

A Salmon Arm baby has spent nearly 100 days in a Vancouver neonatal intensive care unit since his early arrival, born less than 25 weeks into his development.

Julie and Connor Mounce said they were looking forward to the birth of their first child. However, things changed suddenly as Julie went into spontaneous preterm labour.

Baby Douglas “Dougie” Mounce was born on Jan. 8, weighing just 2.2 pounds.

“I had a completely normal pregnancy. I didn't have any concerns, and there was nothing ahead of time that suggested it was going to happen. It just did,” Julie said.

Once Dougie was born, the family was quickly transferred to the Vancouver Women’s Hospital NICU. Once they got there, the new parents were told to prepare for a minimum stay of 10 to 15 weeks. The baby was recently transferred to Kelowna General Hospital, which has brought the family much closer to home.

Wednesday, April 17 will mark their 100th day in a NICU — and coincidentally, Dougie’s scheduled due date.

Julie and Connor had a room at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, but they spent most nights on a fold-out couch in Dougie's NICU room.

Steady improvement

The couple said Dougie has faced an array of health issues as an extremely premature birth, but he has been steadily improving — which Julie partially attributes to all the time they have been able to spend with him.

“One of the reasons why he's done so well is having us there all the time,” Julie said. "And holding him so much. We've kind of created a monster because now he just demands to be held all the time.”

In the baby's current room at KGH, there is only a single reclining chair bed, so the parents take turns staying the night while the other person sleeps in a room at JoeAnna’s House.

Dougie is being weaned off of a provided oxygen supply as he learns to breathe on his own. Over the last month, he was experiencing several extreme bradycardia events a day. These are periods of very slow heart rate, and this is a somewhat common issue for premature babies.

He is still dealing with a few bradycardia events, but they are less extreme and seem to be happening less frequently.

Now that he is less reliant on provided oxygen, the next step for the baby is breastfeeding.

The Mounces hope once he is breastfeeding normally and no longer experiencing bradycardia events, they’ll finally be able to return home.

Dougie is almost nine pounds now — more than four times his birth weight.

Preparing to return home

The family has been preparing for the eventual return to their own house now that they’ve been transferred to Kelowna.

“My mom and my siblings have been collecting baby stuff for us, because we were absolutely not ready at all,” Julie said. “So they've been collecting things like, bassinet, stroller, car seat, all that stuff, which has been great.”

“I went home for one night last Wednesday and my sister and my mom came and helped. We cleared out the room that's gonna be Dougie’s room and sanitized it, and organized.”

Throughout the saga, Connor and Julie haven’t been able to work, which they say has put a lot of financial strain on the young family.

Connor creates copper art and jewellery at his business Mounce Creative Studios, and has been unable to do any work while he has been away from his workshop.

Julie was able to access some family caregiver benefits before her maternity leave benefits came into effect.

To help the Mounce family, residents can make a donation on their GoFundMe page. The online fundraiser was set up by Connor’s sister.

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