KAMLOOPS — A local woman was faced with the terrifying possibility of losing her child when she went into labour at only 23 weeks.
Vanessa Antoine gave birth to her second child, Asher, nearly 4 months premature. Today, Dec. 2, mother and baby returned to Royal Inland Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but this time there were no tubes or monitors attached to baby Asher.
"It's a little nerve wracking," Antoine said of being back in the NICU. "I still remember walking in, and taking a deep breath, and going, 'what are they going to tell me about my son today?'"
When Antoine went into labour she was rushed to RIH Emergency, from there she was airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.
Asher was born two weeks later, weighing only 1 pound 10 ounces.
"It was absolutely terrifying," Antoine said. "It was probably the worst experience I could possibly imagine. I had never really had any experience, I didn't know anybody personally that had a premature baby, so it wasn't something I knew anything about."
After 70 days at the NICU at Royal Columbian, Asher was finally able to transfer to Royal Inland Hospital, where he remained another 46 days.
"The women here, and the doctors here were amazing," Antoine said. "They got us through it. They held my hand, they watched me cry, they spent hours with Asher cuddling him, and feeding him, and taking care of him when I couldn't be here because I have an older son that I needed to be home for as well."
Ashley Caternick was one of the nurses who cared for Asher while he was at RIH.
"You care for the babies just as equally as you care for the families and the moms," Caternick said, "so you do end up becoming quite close and developing a relationship with them."
That relationship remained strong even after Asher was released from the hospital on Oct. 23.
"We always try and tell them, 'please send us pictures and come back and visit,' because we like to see them when they grow and get big because they change and look so different," Caternick said. "Even times when they're born premature, when they come back they look so different. So it's really nice to see them grow, and thrive, and get big."
Asher is a little over five months old now, had he been born on his due date he would be only seven weeks.
Thanks to the care he received in the NICU, Asher is now able to keep growing strong at home.
"It's so nice to go to sleep at night knowing he's right there, and wake up in the morning knowing he's right there," Antoine said. "Waking up in the middle of the night isn't easy, and it's not always fun, but it's definitely worth it, because while he was in the hospital I didn't get to do those things, so it's worth getting up in the middle of the night to feed him because he's hungry, because he's home."
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