Logan Smith made a surprise entrance into the world. Born on Sept. 30 – about 4 months before his due date — his early arrival took his parents, Brad and Lisa Smith, of Dover, down a road they didn’t expect.
“He was born at 24 weeks gestation, so everything was still underdeveloped,” said Brad.
Logan came to Akron Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at 10 days old after he was diagnosed with a spontaneous perforation in his small intestine. Doctors first tried to treat the perforation with a drain. But when that didn’t work, they had to do exploratory surgery, where more perforations were found. A liver hematoma developed and started bleeding during surgery, which Lisa said was “one of the scariest moments in our NICU journey.”
“The day of his first exploratory surgery was the hardest day of our lives,” Brad said. “They had to remove some of his bowel and his liver started bleeding during the surgery. They stopped the bleeding, but explained the next 24 hours are crucial. So, on top of worrying about his liver, we also didn’t know if there would be enough bowel for him to absorb nutrients and grow.
“The hardest part was not knowing if everything would be okay,” Brad added. “Every baby is different, so you really can’t predict how things will turn out. We do know that the nurse didn’t leave the room, and there was a doctor in the room every 15 minutes to check on him.”
Brad and Lisa, who are first-time parents, relied on their faith to get them through.
“There is no doubt in our minds that God was there through it all,” Lisa said. “Every single staff member we encountered was so nice, giving us hugs, tissues and their prayers, too. We stayed by his side as much as we could. The Akron Children’s staff constantly informed us of the good signs.”
Logan made it through but had to have 4 more surgeries after that and also had a feeding tube placed in his stomach temporarily.
Like most babies born prematurely, Logan also has had other issues, like a collapsed lung that had to be corrected with a chest tube.
“He had to be weaned from the ventilator and is now (thankfully) not on any kind of oxygen to help him breathe,” Brad said. “However, he still has chronic lung disease. He had a couple of brain bleeds from the stress of all that his body went through. He had stage 3 retinopathy of prematurity and plus disease, and had eye injections to correct those. He had a heart murmur that resolved on its own. He also has osteopenia of prematurity from having to be on IV nutrition for so long.”
Lisa and Brad spent some nights at the hospital, especially when Logan was at his most critical. But other nights, they relied on the NICU staff to care for Logan.
“It is so nice to be able to have a place to rest and a shower right in the same room as your baby, so you can be updated quickly throughout the night,” Brad said. “When Logan wasn’t so critical, we felt comfortable going home to sleep in our own bed most nights, thanks to the wonderful reassurance of the nurses that he was well taken care of.”
Among the nurses the family bonded the most with was Megan Hart.
“Megan will always be special to us! She has been there since the early days of our journey, and stuck with us until the end,” Lisa said. “She is so kind and sweet, and you can tell she really loves and cares for Logan, as do a few other special nurses, too. Megan is also very knowledgeable and quick on her feet when something unexpected would go wrong. She was there for us when we would break down from all the stress of the emotional rollercoaster, but was also there to celebrate the little and big victories.”
Megan went the extra mile by helping Lisa and Brad to take photos around each of the holidays they celebrated while Logan was in the NICU.
“She would get a mattress cover that would match his outfit, and she would take the photos and help us decorate,” Brad said.
On Feb. 25, after 140 days at Akron Children’s, Logan got to go home with his parents. His dad reports that Logan is doing great at home.
“He is getting much better head control thanks to tummy time,” Brad said. “He is definitely more aware of his surroundings, watching and focusing on things more and more each day. He also smiles and giggles at us now!”
But the family admits that leaving the NICU — their home away from home — was bittersweet.
“We were beyond excited to bring him home, not having to make the drive every day, and start being a normal family,” said Brad. “However, we also felt homesick at home! We spent so much time in the NICU. You miss the interaction, and the security. When you go home your child is 100% your responsibility.”
He added that despite Logan’s challenging entrance into the world, the Smiths were amazed at their experience in the NICU.
“When we were transferred to Akron Children’s the mood was light and positive, the doctors and nurses were confident and seemed like they see this all the time,” Brad said. “We heard from all our family and friends that Akron Children’s is the best around. After seeing it first hand we can’t agree more — Akron Children’s saved our son’s life.”