Celebrating a family’s first Christmas at SickKids
Over the holiday season, many families look forward to celebrating with their loved ones. For Erica and Brett Morrison, this Christmas was meant to be their last as a family of two, before welcoming their first baby in February. After delivering their son, Jeffrey, at just 24-weeks on Nov. 8, Erica and Brett spent their first Christmas as a family of three in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).
The couple had just returned home to Peterborough from a trip to New York when Erica started feeling unwell. She was airlifted to Mount Sinai Hospital where Jeffrey was born weighing only 650 grams. Four days after his birth, Jeffrey stopped tolerating his feeds. He was immediately transferred to the SickKids’ NICU where he’s remained since, undergoing specialized investigation and treatment.
Investigating the case of a micro-preemie
Erica recalls the walk across University Avenue from Mount Sinai to SickKids in early November, while Jeffrey was being transferred via the underground tunnels that connect many of the major hospitals along Hospital Row.
“While Jeffrey was in transit to SickKids, I remember being such a mix of emotions. I was scared and sad, not knowing where he was, or how he was doing, but grateful that he was in the best place possible to be taken care of,” says Erica.
Jeffrey continues to receive careful monitoring of his feeding and nutrition, but he is progressing well. Erica and Brett say they are grateful for the care and support they receive from the medical team at SickKids, who involve them in every discussion and decision about Jeffrey's treatment.
"They explain everything to us, they listen to our questions and concerns, and they make us feel like we are part of Jeffrey's care," says Brett.
A newfound community of support
Erica and Brett also say they have found comfort and connection with other SickKids’ NICU families, who understand what they are going through in a way no one else can.
Their first night in the NICU, they recall meeting another couple, who had their broader extended family visiting with them.
“The couple saw us sitting there and came over to talk to us. They shared their story with us, listened to ours and invited us to join them for a meal,” says Brett. “They made us feel less alone and more hopeful."
Since Jeffrey’s arrival at SickKids, Erica and Brett have been staying at Ronald McDonald House to be close to their son. They can be found every day at Jeffrey’s bedside, talking and reading to him and being actively involved in his care.
Just in time for Christmas, Jeffrey graduated off the high-frequency jet ventilator he had been on since his arrival at SickKids and transitioned on to a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This positive progression in his care allowed Brett to hold his son for the first time.
“This was the best Christmas present we could’ve gotten.”