‘It’s a big Christmas present:’ Preemie baby heads home after lengthy stay at hospital

The 45-minute drive home to Greenville after spending more than 150 days in the neonatal intensive care unit is a “big Christmas present” for the Martin family.

They are finally taking home their son who was born premature.

“We had a hard time having a child, but when we did it was a miracle,” said Vanessa Martin, who gave birth to her son Jayden on July 17.  “He’s been the greatest gift of all.”

Five months ago, Jayden was born 14 weeks early weighing only 1 pound and 9½ ounces He now weighs 9½ pounds

“We’ve seen him go through many ups and downs,” said Tyler Martin, Jayden’s father. “Going home kind of sounded like a fairy tale line at the very beginning of this.”

But faith has kept the Martin family strong, and they credit the nurses and staff at Dayton Children’s Hospital for making the lengthy journey a little bit easier.

“They’ve actually become more like family, and it’s become sad saying goodbye to a lot of them,” Tyler Martin said.

The Martins said the first five months of Jayden’s life were not easy.

“Your faith will never be as challenged as it is while you’re in here,” Tyler Martin said.  “But you’ll never grow as much as you will while you’re in here also.”

The family said they’ve seen many families at the hospital experiencing the same challenges of premature birth.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 percent of babies in the United States are born early. Premature birth is defined as giving birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed.

The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of death or serious disability, according to the CDC. In 2017, preterm birth and low birth rate accounted for about 17 percent of infant deaths.

Jayden has flourished in his first five months in intensive care and today is his NICU graduation day. The family even delayed a Christmas tradition for his homecoming.

“I want to get home, put on Christmas music and put the Christmas tree up with Jayden, and experience that for the first time as a family,” Tyler Martin said.

“Maybe wear some slippers, too,” Vanessa Martin said with a laugh.

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