FORT FRANCES—Benjamin Marr, the infant son of local couple Dave and Jennifer Marr, is one step closer to being able to come home from the hospital after he was moved Saturday from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to a more intermediate stage of hospitalization called T1.
Benjamin was born prematurely back in November at 24 weeks and four days, weighing just one pound, four oz. The family has been spending most of their time in a Winnipeg hospital.
“I’m excited—things are going in the right direction,” Jennifer Marr enthused. “I’m anxious to take him home and get into a routine with him. . . .
“He’s doing so well and he’s come so far.”
Benjamin’s weight is up to four pounds, three oz. and he’s now about 16 inches long.
Marr explained in T1, she will take care of him mostly because it’s one step before going home.
“At this point, I’ve already been doing that,” she indicated. “I’ll be taking his temperature, changing his diaper, picking him up if he needs to be held—basically everything you do at home.
“But they’ll monitor his heart rate, and they teach him how to eat because he’s still being fed through a tube.”
He hasn’t been able to have a bottle yet, she noted, but on Friday he started breastfeeding for the very first time.
Benjamin also has been taken off the machine that provided him with oxygen when he needed it. He’s now onto nose prongs, which gives just a slight sniff of oxygen.
“So he’s basically breathing on his own and doing well with that—just needing a sniff [of oxygen] here or there,” Marr explained, adding her son come a long way.
“Now it’s ‘When can we take him home?’”
Benjamin’s official due date was Tuesday.
“I’m getting really anxious because we are getting that much closer,” Marr remarked. “And it’s his due date, so he’s actually supposed to be here.
“He’s come so far since Christmas,” she added. “He’s come so far in the last few weeks that it’s just amazing—truly amazing.”
She said she was told by the doctors that once things start to happen, they’ll happen fast.
In T1, not only will Benjamin learn how to eat, but the medical staff will watch to make sure his heart rate doesn’t drop or that he doesn’t need oxygen while sitting in a car seat for the length of time it will take drive home (about four hours).
Once he is able to do that, he’ll be ready to come home.
“Those are the next big hurdles for him to get through,” Marr said. “Just having him home is what we’re looking forward to.”
Benjamin overcame a few hurdles regarding his eye sight when he underwent three eye surgeries within just five days a few weeks ago.
Marr explained the vessels behind his eyes were quite enlarged, so the doctors were trying to ensure the retinas wouldn’t detach.
She noted the first surgery was three hours long. Two days later, the doctors performed another five-hour surgery, and then a few days after that they spent 45 minutes working just on Benjamin’s right eye.
She said her son has been having eye check-ups ever since and they were told last week that “everything is looking great.”
Not only that, but Benjamin’s eye exams have been reduced from three times a week to once every three weeks.
“So things are looking that great,” Marr enthused, noting the doctors don’t believe he’ll have trouble with his eyes in the future. “He’s not going to have the peripheral vision that you and I would have . . . he’ll be able to see, but probably not from the corner of his eye.
“But we won’t know for sure until he is older and he can tell us what he sees.”
It seems it’s been a long, bumpy road for the Marrs, but with plenty of support from family and friends, they have made it to the last leg of the journey.
Last month here in Fort Frances, members of the community and surrounding areas joined together at a meatball and perogy benefit dinner to raise funds to help out the family.
The young couple was shocked when more than $15,000 was raised by about 500 people in attendance.
“Everyone has been so amazing,” Marr said, also mentioning the numerous cards, gifts, phone calls, and letters they have received.
“I never dreamed we’d have the support that we had,” she added. “I knew we’d have support, but never in such a big quantity. It’s been huge.
“They don’t just think about you and then forget—they really care. And they care so much,” she stressed. “I’m so happy that we can call Fort Frances and Emo home because we are truly lucky to live there. . . .
“I can’t wait to come home and let everyone meet Benjamin.”
(Fort Frances Times)