It was Matt and Kris Hop’s first experience with childbirth, and as with most couples, they were expecting a full-term birthing experience…but that’s not what happened.
Instead, their precious son, Jaden, “decided he was going to come join the world at 26 weeks and four days,” said Matt. “He weighed 2 pounds, 3.5 ounces and was 14.5 inches long.”
Now twelve years later, Matt reflected on the events that took place in September 2008:
Kris wasn’t feeling well and thought her urinary tract infection wasn’t getting better, he recalled. On a Tuesday she went to her Mercy Health physician for a follow-up appointment where she had an ultrasound.
“They stopped dead in their tracks,” said Matt. “Kris’ doctor sent her to her OB’s office in the same building, and the OB sent her to the hospital [Mercy Health Saint Mary’s] right away.”
It turned out that Kris was in labor. Following medical protocol for a situation like this, Kris was under the care of a team who worked to stop her early contractions, but on the following Saturday, Jaden was born and immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“At Saint Mary’s NICU, you’re going to get top-notch, personalized care. You’re not a number. They have years of valuable experience. Sometimes the staff can read your cues before you know what you need. You get to talk to nurses who have given all levels of care in the NICU,” said Matt.
As a micro-preemie baby, Jaden needed very specialized care. In fact, Jaden’s parents couldn’t even hold him during the first week. During the 84 days Jaden was in the NICU, the Hops began to think of the nurses as family.
“Saint Mary’s makes you feel like family. Jaden didn’t have a different nurse every single night. You come to know all the nurses. They are all people you can trust. We’re thrilled with the care we got there. We absolutely love them,” said Matt.
Yet, one nurse stood out to both Matt and Kris. “We still like to see nurse Melissa Denslow when we can,” said Matt. Melissa had a special bond with Jaden, as he was the first micro-preemie baby she cared for. The Hops attribute much of Jaden’s improvements to Melissa’s care.
When Jaden reached 6 pounds, he was able to go home. “It’s scary going home even though they train and prepare you for it,” said Matt. “You ask yourself how you’re going to do this without the NICU nurses. But you do it.”
Matt shared how the nurses get to know each child’s tendencies, so parents are better prepared when going home. “They let you know things like ‘Your son is a slow eater,’ or ‘This is how he best eats at night’.” The Hops found that all the little things they learned made the transition to going home easier.
Today, Jaden has no issues from his pre-term birth. He loves reading and playing with Legos. Playing Xbox and ultimate frisbee round out his special interests.
“You can’t have a better outcome than what we had with Jaden. He has zero issues. We attribute that to the care from the staff in the NICU…they were phenomenal. It speaks volumes about the personal care he received,” said Matt.
Kris and Matt are forever grateful for the care they received at the NICU at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
“They are there for you. They will do whatever you need. God put us at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s for a reason. We were right where we needed to be.”