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Meet Sebastian Barton

We first found out that there may be issues with our pregnancy after we got results from our quad test at 16 weeks. It came back positive and we were told that there was potential for a neural tube defect, but that it was most likely a false positive.  It was determined that I’d get some extra scans throughout the pregnancy to be safe. 

For the next few months everything seemed to be going fine. At 28 weeks I had a scan and was told that there was absent blood flow to my placenta and that Sebastian hadn’t been growing. He had severe IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). I was told to go straight to IMC in Murray and that I would likely be delivering Sebastian that day.  They monitored me overnight but Sebastian’s vitals looked great so they decided I could go home but that I would need steroid shots and weekly (this turned to daily) monitoring.  The goal was to get to at least 32 weeks, giving time for the steroids to help Sebastian’s lungs. 

Sebastian Barton in the NICU
Sebastian Barton, NICU patient

Despite having to be admitted one more time due to reverse blood flow, every time Sebastian’s vitals were taken, he passed with flying colors. He was such a trooper in the womb (and out)! A few days before his scheduled delivery date we were told that the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at IMC was full so I would be delivering at the University of Utah. We were thrilled, as it was a 5 minute drive from our home and we knew that we would be in great hands at U of U Health.

Sebastian was born October 20, 2014 at 32 weeks gestation.  He was 2.3 pounds and 14 inches long.  Everything went well with the planned C-section and Sebastian gave a nice loud cry before he was whisked off to the NICU.  We were very fortunate that Sebastian came out breathing on his own and only needed oxygen a few times during his 43 -day stay. 

I can still remember the sounds of the NICU. Despite the constant beeping of the monitors, the uncertainties of the health of my child, being thrown into the fire of motherhood (Sebastian was my first), and recovering from a stressful pregnancy and a C-section, there was a peaceful feeling in the NICU—a reverence almost, being surround by so many little fighters and the amazing NICU nurses and doctors that were taking care of them.

NICU babies are special babies.

Sebastian’s biggest hurdles in the NICU were learning how to eat and getting to that 4-pound mark in order to be able to get home.  He was also born with a hole in his heart that would need to be monitored as well. He came out so tiny and frail, like a baby bird with giant eyes.  He was the sweetest little baby.

As a parent, the NICU is a stressful environment to be in: the sounds, the tubes, the cords, the pokes and prods, the lack of privacy. It’s not easy. There were lots of tears and lots of heartache. But every night I was able to go home with the assurance that Sebastian was in the very best hands possible. We were lucky to have some amazing nurses throughout our stay that treated Sebastian as they would their own. As a scared, worn out, new mother just trying to figure things out, the nurses were patient with my questions and concerns while staying strict on procedures and protocol. Every holiday or milestone that passed, they would make scrapbook pages and do photoshoots to help us feel like we weren’t missing out as much.

Sebastian spent his first Halloween and Thanksgiving in the NICU, he even stayed long enough to get his Christmas pictures taken! While it was a difficult time, I cherish those photos and keepsakes now. I spent so much time in that dimly lit room with Sebastian wrapped in chords on my chest, willing him to grow, learn how to eat on his own, and continue to breathe on his own so I could take him home. What felt like forever then feels like a blink of an eye now. We were able to take him home after 43 days. He was just over four pounds, barely fitting into the car seat, still tiny and fragile. 

The first few weeks and months had their challenges: There were lots of doctor appointments and physical therapy visits. And just the natural stress of going through that experience was a hurdle to get through that first year, but we wouldn’t change a thing seeing who Sebastian has become now and what a special kid he is. Sebastian is now 8 years old, and you’d never know he had such a difficult start to life.

Sebastian Barton, happy and healthy at 8 years old
Sebastian Barton, happy and healthy at 8 years old.

The hole in his heart has closed, and he is as healthy as can be. He is the best big brother to his two little brothers, very social, and a friend to everyone. He is incredibly intelligent, blowing his parents away with his vast knowledge of random things and critical thinking. He is a sponge and soaks everything in. He loves everything science-related and wants to make new discoveries or inventions when he grows up. We have no doubt he will.

He loves playing soccer, tennis, and swimming, and is always down for a good dance party. He is very musically inclined, and we love to hear him playing his favorite tunes on the piano. He loves school, friends, and playing video games—his favorite being Legend of Zelda. Sebastian is a good-hearted, bright light in this world. We can’t imagine life without him. 

We are so thankful for modern medicine and the incredible care of the nurses and doctors at U of U Health who made it so Sebastian is still here today. He is a very special kid with a huge and tender heart, and it seems he always knows what to say and what to do in the right moment. Last summer he saved his baby brother’s life when he found him upside down in a 5-gallon bucket of water that a construction worker had left out as they were playing outside. He was calm and quick to action, dumping the bucket over, pulling him out and attempting to do CPR on his blue and still brother, calling out until his dad was able to get to them and take over. I don’t know too many 8-year-old’s that have literally saved somebody’s life, but Sebastian has.

We have always said that Sebastian is our little angel, but now he is our hero too. We love Sebastian. He's small but mighty and destined to do great things in this world!

Meet Our NICU Alumni

This is a special project that documents our NICU alumni. We are so grateful to watch these amazing young patients grow into their lives, despite a challenging start.