Nolan Mearon Beauvais has a fighting spirit »
On Monday, December 23, Nicole Beauvais and her husband Donte Mearon were at home in Chicago where Nicole was having what she termed an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy. She had just seen her ob/gyn – all things were going as expected – and at not even six-months pregnant, she and Donte had plenty of time to plan and get ready for the happy, springtime arrival of their first child.
Three days later, things took a quick turn.
The couple was in Minneapolis to spend the Christmas holiday with family. Nicole grew up in Minneapolis and they had also lived here for a time. On Christmas Day, Nicole started experiencing severe back pain and after a call home to her ob/gyn, she visited a nearby emergency room the next day, where life changed in an instant. At 23 and a half weeks gestation, she was determined to be in labor and was transported by ambulance (with lights and sirens) to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis.
“I kept saying to myself, ‘We’re going to stop this labor.’” Nicole is a physician’s assistant; she knew that premature labor was not uncommon, but she also knew that babies born before six months gestation often do not make it or face serious health challenges. Little Nolan Mearon Beauvais came swiftly into the world at 9:29 a.m. – just one hours after Nicole arrived at Children’s – weighing 1 pound, 8 ounces. Only 24 ounces.
He was tiny, but he had a fighting spirit, the care and expertise of Children’s Hospital and the love of his parents on his side. Nolan was in critical condition, with pulmonary issues which required him to be intubated in order to breathe. A few days later, an ultrasound revealed he had also suffered a brain bleed, which is common in preemies, resulting in hydrocephalus, which is excess fluid around the brain. He also had a severely compromised immune system given how early he was born.
Eight days into life, Nolan opened his eyes, which was a beautiful thing for Nicole and Donte to witness. However, two days later they received a call from the doctor stating “We’re very worried about your little guy.” Nolan had good days and less than good days, but he was slowly stabilizing in the NICU (Neonatal intensive care unit) after undergoing multiple surgeries. “We have come to be very happy with things being stable.” Nolan needed to be in an isolette, which is an incubator for preemies. If he was doing well, mom and dad would get to hold him once a day and he responded well to the skin-to-skin contact, which is known in the medical world as kangaroo care, commonly used with premature infants.
Throughout the past couple of months, Nicole and Donte have found a home-away-from-home at both the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s, Minneapolis, and the Ronald McDonald House – Oak Street. “We were thinking it was just a Christmas holiday,” Nicole says. “I only had maternity clothes and we had just our carry-ons. We had jobs back in Chicago, we didn’t have a car. And we needed to be here with Nolan.”
For the especially fragile, first ten days of Nolan’s life, Nicole and Donte stayed in one of the 15 sleeping rooms at the House inside the Hospital, just 50 steps away from intensive care. This allowed Nicole and Donte to be at Nolan’s bedside, no matter what the hour, during those critical and uncertain times. Donte is a painter and graphic artist and a recent painting of his, ‘Remember to Breathe,’ is already hanging in the house. He wanted to give something to the house that had given so very much to him during those trying, early days.
The Ronald McDonald House inside the Hospital exists so that parents have all the comforts of home and a place of respite during the most critical and often, scariest time of hospitalization. We provide all the things that parents need so that they are immediately available and ready for their children when they need it the most.
Nicole and Donte also stayed at Oak Street, the original house in the Twin Cities, which is available to families who come from over 60 miles away.
“You never know what you need until you need it,” Nicole says. “Laundry, toiletries, a snack, a place to sleep. Without the house, we would have been sleeping in the chair in the hospital room in dirty clothes! We even got to go to a Minnesota Wild game!” Providing time for families to just be together is an important part of the work that we do and local sports teams and arts groups are always generous in donating tickets for evenings out. “It’s support of everyday living.”
After 66 days, Nolan graduated to the ICC (infant care center) and weighed in at four pounds, ten ounces. “It’s awesome. Just amazing.” Nicole and Donte have both found work in the Twin Cities and have made a permanent move back to Minneapolis. Nolan was discharged shortly after April 20, his original due date.
It’s amazing how life can change in a matter 120 days.