Our year began with the news that a new baby was on the way, and on March 22, we found out it would be a baby boy!
In May, Jess began to have some pain, which they said could be gall bladder, and it would not be possible to do surgery while she was pregnant. She watched what she ate and the doctors watched her pregnancy carefully.
On Friday, May 19, at a regularly scheduled prenatal visit, she was sent to Central Baptist for some tests, and ended up staying the weekend. As the pain had mostly subsided by Sunday, she and Matt were looking forward to one more ultrasound and discharge from the hospital on Monday, but that was not to be.
Early Monday morning, May 22, Jess’ situation became critical, and in one doctor’s words, “The baby is too small to have a vote, so you are our priority.” Jess, being a mother and already in love with this little boy, wanted them to do everything possible to give him a chance, so she was transferred to UK where the NICU is equipped to give even micro-preemies a fighting chance. When Matt and Jess got to UK, they were told that the doctors at Central Baptist were “more optimistic” about the baby’s chances of survival than they were, but they would do their best. Jess was prepped for surgical delivery of the baby a little more than three months early.
As family waited anxiously in the hallway, the delivery suite was a flurry of activity. At 4:03 PM, we received a text from Matt: “Y’all can tell those that need to know that Jess is out of surgery. They said everything went well. Baby Link was born at 2:54 with a heartbeat on his own and was able to be intubated immediately. Still a rough road ahead, but that’s what I know for now. His tiny little face is beautiful.” As I read the message to those with me, we all burst into tears. I had pretty much resigned myself to saying goodbye to this little one that day, and to know that he was alive and fighting was a miracle! At 360 grams (a little less than 13 ounces) and 9.5 inches long, he was the tiniest baby I had ever seen, but he was completely beautiful and we were instantly in love.
He has come so far. The past three months have been a roller-coaster, with incredible highs, and at least one incredible low. But this little guy is a warrior, and there is a plan and a purpose for his life, I am sure. He is now three months old, three pounds, three ounces, and a little over 13 inches long. During this time, Matt and Jess have been fortunate to be able to reside at the Ronald McDonald House to be close to the hospital for daily visits, cuddles, baby care, and of course, transportation of Jess’ ever-present cooler of breast milk to help Baby Link grow big and strong! Matt is fortunate that his job allows him to work from pretty much anywhere he can get a wi-fi signal, but Jess ran out her paid maternity leave the end of July. She is now on unpaid leave from her job, but FMLA runs out the first week of September.
Even as we rejoice that Baby Link is growing bigger and stronger every day, his medical team has said that it may be December before he can be discharged, and even at that, there is a laundry list of conditions that must be met before he can leave the NICU and go home. Once home, it may well be months before Jess can return to work, as his health will have to be closely guarded until he is strong and healthy enough to go to daycare or have an outside sitter in.
That is why we are asking for help. Jess was able to work less than five months this year, and could be off another six months to a year. Like any young family, they have a house payment, utilities, insurance, etc., that must be paid, no matter where they spend the majority of their time.
We believe that helping others is a gift that grants the giver, as well as the receiver, blessings untold. We have received help from close friends and family, and even some strangers who were touched by our story. But time (and bills) wait for no one, and we are asking for any donation that you are comfortable making to help this family stay on their feet until they get their little one home and settled back into some kind of routine. If you cannot give financially at this time, we ask that you share this campaign with your family and friends, because sharing is caring, too!
May your hearts be blessed by this story of love and strength, and may we ask that you offer a prayer for continued blessing for this baby boy and those who love him!
- Kirstin Watts
- Sarah Nash
- Bob & Lynne McWilliams
- Charlene Booth
- Therese Smith
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more