Jessica is a single mom and the parent of two boys, Britton and Chewy. Britton was born at 28 weeks gestation weighing only two pounds and 14 ounces. He is 13 years old now and has had many health challenges, including a stroke and brain bleed which has resulted in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
Preterm Birth Complications
When Britton was born he seemed to be doing well until the nurses in the NICU tried to feed him, that is when some problems started. He was stabilized and Jessica took him home, but soon after that Britton’s bowel ruptured and it caused three main arteries to be cut off from his brain resulting in a brain injury. Jessica didn’t know if he was going to live or die. He was in the NICU for eight months during which time he had a stroke and another brain bleed. Jessica said “It was traumatic to have him early…. I was clueless and young.”
Taking Home a Medical Fragile Baby from the Hospital
Britton was cleared to go home when he had some more problems. The doctors wanted to try an investigational medication on him and said “this experimental drug, it’s never been used on kids, but we are going to see if this will work.” They told Jessica they would know in two days if the treatment worked, however, doctors were really not expecting him to survive. They actually told Jessica to say goodbye to him. Two days later he was still alive, but continued to have many seizures. And even though he still has seizures to this day he has improved a lot.
Best Way to Help a 24 an Hour Caregiver
Jessica describes Britton as someone who needs total care. He is legally blind and almost completely deaf, and she needs to feed and dress him. Her advice to parents is to not be afraid to ask others for help. “I think as humans we want to be strong and prove that we can do whatever on our own. With a kid like him you can’t.” At first Jessica was scared to reach out to people. “Now if people ask if they can help, I’m like sure, please come in. I need help making his meds or washing his clothes or cleaning up.” Jessica also spoke about the importance of building a network of people that you can call for help.
Accessing Services for Developmental Disabilities
Using RISE, a non-profit for individuals with disabilities, has made a huge difference for Jessica. She said, “I used to hate summers because I’m single and I have to work, and I have to try to figure out how to take care of these kids.” Britton was able to participate in a summer program because he was able to get funding and some help and “it has changed our world. I’m so grateful.”
With trials comes the blessings “He just creates such love”
Jessica stated that Britton brings love to her home every single day. She said “He doesn’t care how you look, he just wants to love. He has helped me be a better person.” She also said that as hard as everything is she wouldn’t trade being his mom for anything. “His light, his smile, he is non-verbal and he just creates such love.”
“That’s what I feel like we are here in this world to do, is to be able to experience those tender moments with each other where you connect and feel love.” Chewy, Britton’s younger brother, said, “He helped me gain confidence…He’s been through so much pain, I think I can make it out too, if he’s made it out of all of that.” Both Jessica and Chewy agree that Britton has brought joy and blessings to their home, “He’s got a big heart.”