GRAY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The birth of a child is amazing milestone for any parent, but for some families it's a very difficult experience especially if their baby is born too early. 15 million are born prematurely in this country every year and is the leading cause of death among babies. Despite these odds, many babies born too early are now thriving and have a chance at a healthy life. That was just the case for a Gray couple who's son was born 14 weeks before he was due.
The balloons, banners and the color blue is the give away. Friends and family are celebrating the arrival of Jace Gamblin. His parents, Mike and Courtney are busy from measuring milk for his bottle to rocking their first born to sleep. But February 5th is actually little Jace's 'birthday'. He spent the first 5 months of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Maine Medical Center.
'They did a growth scan on him and he hadn't grown at all so they decided they needed to take him out,' said Mike Gamblin.
Courtney had to deliver Jace at 26 weeks because there was insufficient blood flow to the placenta during her pregnancy. He weighed only one pound four ounces.
'When he came out he cried and I wasn't expecting that at all, it was a little tiny cry and I wasn't expecting that at all.' said Courtney Gamblin.
The chances of a baby surviving at 26 weeks is 50 percent. But the young couple didn't focus on odds instead they tried bonding with their tiny son, which was difficult at first.
'I couldn't hold him at the beginning I couldn't barely touch him, ' said Courtney.
Eventually they were able to do skin to skin contact with their tiny baby, but there were more serious concerns -- like breathing. Jace's lung were severely underdeveloped.
'He couldn't keep his lungs open they would collapse, sticky and not enough force to breathe' said Courtney.
It was touch and go for a while especially when Jace couldn't get enough oxygen on a conventional respirator. They put him on a hi-fi respirator it was awful because it was very powerful and breathed very fast and it shook his tiny little body. Steriod treatment helped Jace improve his breathing. He started gaining weight slowly and left the hospital five months after he was born -- weighing more than 8 pounds, the size of a newborn.
Having Jace at home for the very first time is a blessing but a lot of responsibility for his parents. He is on a strict schedule, that includes eating every three hours and taking 9 different medications. Jace has a feeding tube which is attached to a port in his stomach. It is also how he gets his medications which fight infections and help his still developing lungs. He is on oxygen, this machine monitors his intake and heart rate. But perhaps the best medicine is finally being home with their son.
This couple doesn't know how long their son will have to be on oxygen and medications. But the are hopeful their baby will have a healthy life, that's why they named him Jace -- which means 'a healing'.
Friends are raising money for the couple to help with medical expenses on GoFundMe.com.