When Courtney was pregnant with her son Brendan, her physician noticed something was off. During an ultrasound, they discovered that Brendan had an enlarged bowel, which can be a sign of cystic fibrosis.
When Brendan was born in November of 2022, he was immediately placed in the NICU. “This was already planned and why we delivered in the Advanced Delivery Unit at Nemours Children’s Hospital,” explains Courtney. “The team was remarkable. Dr. Chou and our nurse, Mo, made a nerve-racking delivery as easy and seamless as possible. It was nothing but a great experience, considering the circumstances.”
At only a day and a half old, Brendan had surgery. “During the surgery, they found that a part of the bowel had twisted on itself, causing it to not function properly,” says Courtney. “That day, they removed 30 cm of bowel and started the use of a colostomy bag. Then we had a 6-week healing period before a second surgery. This surgery would reconnect the bowel so it could function as it should and he would no longer need the colostomy bag.”
On January 20, 2023, after 67 days in the NICU, Brendan was finally discharged. “The care team was amazing during our stay at Nemours Children’s. Our nurses Liz and Megan started to feel like family. Our surgeon that performed both surgeries…amazing! Everyone worked to make this really difficult time function as smoothly as possible.”
Since Brendan’s surgeries, his path to recovery hasn’t been an easy one. “He received most of his nutrition through IV and was only allowed a small amount of food during each feed,” says Courtney. “That was tough because the desire to eat was still very much there. Since leaving the hospital everything has gone great. He has turned into quite the chunk, eating and making up for all the missed milk he could not eat during his NICU stay.”
“The bowel issue is linked to Brendan having cystic fibrosis; something we are familiar with as CF is genetic and our other son also has the disease,” says Courtney. “Nemours is home for us since Brendan’s older brother, who is now 12, has been coming several times a year since birth. Even though our doctors see a lot of kids, Nemours makes you feel like your child is the top priority.”
When asked what advice she would give to others going through a similar situation, Courtney says, “Look for things to be grateful for during such a challenging time. For me, I was grateful that, although it was not an ideal setting, my time with my son in the NICU was uninterrupted. No dinner to prep, or dog to let outside, or those daily events that take place that require you to set your infant down. It was him and I. Now, we are so happy to finally be home and all together. Brendan is thriving and we are so grateful for that.”