After a year of fertility treatments, Mandee was thrilled when she found out she was pregnant with her first child. She was already a stepmother to 7-year-old Veronica and now this little bundle of joy would complete their family.
Although her pregnancy seemed to be progressing perfectly, an unexpected situation occurred that resulted in an emergency C-section. Her son, Jasper, was born 15 weeks early on June 16th at Fisher Titus Hospital in Norwalk and was immediately transferred to Akron Children's Hospital. Due to her own complications, Mandee had to stay in the hospital and couldn't be with her son until later that week.
Jasper had many life threatening health issues including a level 4 brain bleed, chronic lung disease, and a congenital heart defect. He spent 120 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Akron Children's Hospital.
"Each day we would drive 150 miles so we could be with our son at the hospital," said Mandee. Their focus was on Jasper's medical condition and getting him stronger so he could one day come home. "We never had time to set up his nursery or get the basic things he would need."
As Japser's health improved, a caseworker at the hospital told Mandee about Easterseals and the Helping Ohioans Move, Expanding Choice (HOME Choice) Program. The program helps people of any age transition from long-term care facilities, including NICU's, into the community.
"I couldn't believe it when the caseworker mentioned Easterseals! Easterseals was the one charity that my dad always supported throughout his lifetime and now they were able to help us," said Mandee.
Easterseals was able to make the transition home a little easier. The provided necessary items such as a crib, changing table, pack and play, and special bottles. "Thanks to Easterseals, Jasper was able to come home to everything he deserved," explained Mandee.
As the holidays approach, Mandee is excited to celebrate at home as a family. She looks forward to the day Jasper no longer needs the heart monitor and doesn't have cords everywhere.
Although Jasper's journey isn't over, Mandee said that knowing he has a caring and compassionate support system in place is comforting. Easterseals, along with other community resources, will continue to work with the family to make sure he has the support he needs to grow stronger every day.