“He is our first child, giving us a run for our money,” said Chappisha Morgan, smiling as she pulled a small shirt over her three-month-old son Messiah’s vertical chest scar. Messiah’s dad, Terrance Mackie, was packing up their belongings for a big family “first”. Their baby boy was going home. “We had a baby three months ago and he’s never been home,” Chappisha Morgan said. “That’s a big day for everybody.”
It’s been quite a journey for Messiah and his parents. At just 26-weeks gestation, he was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, and was a mere five-days old when he underwent cardiac surgery to fix a missing aortic arch.
Following a successful surgery, Messiah faced myriad challenges due to his compromised immune system and complicated feeding needs. As a result, swallow therapy was recommended prior to his discharge from the NICU. Both mom and dad had to decide on the next step, and hospital, for Messiah.
We really wanted him home but we knew the best option was to get him the help and treatment he needed. That’s why we chose Blythedale.
Messiah was admitted in early July for respiratory management related to his congenital heart disease. Upon admission, Messiah was reliant on mechanical ventilation, and a nasogastric (NG) tube for feeding. The three-month-old baby boy required feeding and occupational therapies, which began immediately.
Motivated to help her son recover in order to bring him home, Messiah’s mother jumped right into the patient-family education program at Blythedale Children’s Hospital. “On day one they were showing us everything,” she said.
Anne Checchi, Assistant Director of Speech Pathology at Blythedale, spent hours with Messiah for much-needed feeding therapy. He had difficulty latching, initiating a suck, keeping fluid in his mouth and swallowing. Simultaneously, Messiah’s mom was also being taught how to read his feeding cues to make for a more comfortable experience. “The most important thing is for the parent to be able to do the same thing as we are because they are the primary feeder,” Anne Checchi said. “We are basically a conduit to their independence.”
Three weeks to the day of Messiah’s arrival at Blythedale, the time had come for his family to take him home. Inside Messiah’s patient room, a confident and prepared Chappisha Morgan picked up her son to place him in the car seat. She paused to reflect on their time and training at the Hospital. “I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “I feel like I am a nurse, a therapist.... I’m a little bit of everything at this point because everyone took time out to teach me.” She added, “This has been three weeks of him growing - he’s stronger, more alert, he’s grabbing at things now - his progress has been amazing.”
Chappisha and Terrance then collected their bags, took a hold of the stroller with small Messiah inside, and began pushing it toward the main entrance. Before walking out the front door, Messiah’s parents looked lovingly at their young son and said, “We have Blythedale to thank for this. They will give your child the skills they need to catch up.”