My recent voluntography session with Emmett and his parents, Amber and John, was a little out of the ordinary. When Amber and I first talked about the session, Emmett was still in hospital. But between that initial conversation and our photo date (and after 87 days in hospital!), Emmett was discharged. Emmett and his family live in Vermillion, so Amber and I brainstormed how we could still make a session in Edmonton work. As luck would have it, Emmett had his first paediatrician appointment on the day we were set to shoot. Rather than an in hospital session or shooting at Ronald McDonald House, we did a storytelling session capturing Emmett’s first outpatient doctor appointment, a visit to his old units at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, and then finally back to Ronald McDonald House. Perfect!!
Emmett’s parents learned twelve weeks into their pregnancy that their baby had gastroschisis. According to Amber, “It felt like our life was turned upside down that day. Neither of us knew what this condition was and after many appointments in Edmonton we decided to continue with the pregnancy and enter the unknown. We stuck together during this difficult time and tried not to allow it to get in the way of everyday life. Emmett graced us with his appearance on July 25, 2015 at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women where he was shortly after transported in the stork to the Stollery NICU.”
Emmett spent 57 days in the NICU. The following are just some of the details Amber shared with me:
The night Emmett arrived at the Stollery they put a silo over his bowels to keep them in a closed environment. On Day 16 he went for surgery to close his abdomen. At which time they found two spots on the bowels they needed to remove. Five days later we tried to feed Emmett for the first time and he ended up with a septic infection, then another septic infection, then a clot and finally a broviac line was placed in his chest. At Day 24 we attempted to feed a second time and Emmett started throwing up green. As a result they sent him for a contrast study which showed a narrowing in the lower part of the small intestine. Emmett successfully began feeding on Day 29. We started very slowly at just 1ml/hr and increasing by one ml every 24-48 hrs with a goal of 21mls/hr.
“Just when we thought we were clear to go home Emmett started to lose weight. They told us we were unable to go home until he was gaining weight. On October 17th Emmett started gaining weight!! It was such a happy day. I then felt like home was going to happen.”
Emmett spent another 30 days on unit 4E3.
Emmett was discharged with a feeding tube. At this point he is taking between 1/4 and 1/2 of his intake orally and then he takes the remainder of his feed by his NG tube. But Emmett is home!
Every time I’ve shot a family from Ronald McDonald House I hear just how important meeting other families in similiar situations is to their own journey. This next image tells that story. Amber’s friend’s baby is also in hospital and she’s interested in a voluntography session down the road.
It was great to meet you and your family, Emmett. You are one tough little warrior and I wish you all the best.