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Finding Comfort and Security When Faced With The Unexpected

Finding Comfort and Security When Faced With The Unexpected

Shawn & Preston Rayburn
by Sarah Duch

Expecting parents often daydream about the first time they will hold their newborn child. Many imagine staring at the baby’s soft, delicate features bundled in a cuddly pink or blue blanket. For Joe and Shawn Rayburn, this perfect picture was quickly changed when an early delivery sent their tiny son, Preston, to a 68-day visit to CHRISTUS St. Michael’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

At 28 weeks gestation, Shawn’s water unexpectedly broke, and the doctors were not able to stop her contractions. Because the baby’s heart rate kept fluctuating, Shawn underwent an emergency Cesarean-section, delivering Preston at 2 lb. 8 oz.  Spending more than two months in the NICU would be exhausting and emotional for anyone, but the NICU staff made the Rayburns’ stay as peaceful as possible.

Rayburn FamilyThe Rayburns felt that their son received the best care from every nurse. “The nurses became our new family,” said Shawn. “We could never thank them enough, and we know they do not get enough credit for the outstanding work they do. They always went out of their way to make us feel as comfortable as they could.”

Dr. Susan Keeney, Board-Certified Neonatologist, was also a tremendous blessing to the Rayburns. “She loves her job and it shows,” said Shawn. “Each day, she would make it a point to give us individual updates on Preston’s condition.  She was very approachable and truly cares for each child in the NICU.”

For the Rayburns, the most difficult part of having a son in the NICU was not being next to him 24 hours a day. However, Shawn says the most rewarding experience was holding Preston for the first time. She recalls, “It was a week after he was born. He was connected to so many tubes and sensors, but it did not matter. I will never forget holding that tiny baby that barely weighed more than the blanket he was wrapped in.”

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Shawn and Preston RayburnAfter overcoming various obstacles, such as breathing, eating, digesting and apneas, Preston was finally able to go home. Today, Preston is a healthy, 20-pound one year old. Looking at him now, no one would ever know that he was a two-pound preemie.

Although the Rayburns knew very little about the NICU before Preston’s early delivery, they now feel blessed to live in a town with such a state-of-the-art facility. Reflecting upon the outstanding care that Preston received, Shawn remarked, “It makes us so proud that Texarkana has the facilities to care for all these special children.”

CHRISTUS St. Michael’s NICU Services

  • Opened in November 2009
  • Has cared for 615 families since opening
  • Provides “sleep rooms” and “suites” for out of town families
  • Designated “Magnet Status” for excellence in nursing services by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program
  • State of the art Ret Cam technology- diagnoses, manages and treats
    retinopathy of prematurity, which is the leading cause of blindness in premature infants
  • On-site certified lactation consultants 7 days a week
  • Offers a support group, “Blessed Beginnings” that meets monthly
  • Holds a NICU reunion Halloween party every year for NICU graduates and families

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