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Cheerleaders for Caleb

At 31 years old, mother-to-be Lauren Schnepf was preparing for the arrival of her new baby much like any first-time mom would: arranging the perfect nursery, stocking up on cute clothing and purchasing lots of necessities. What she wasn’t preparing for was an early delivery.

After just six days in the hospital, Caleb Schnepf went home with his parents, Lauren and Matt.

Lauren and her husband Matt, 34, already knew that their baby would be born with Down syndrome. Lauren’s OB/GYN, Dr. Tricia Shimer, and perinatologist Dr. Brian Rinehart, both on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, had been closely monitoring her progress and educating the couple on what to expect since the diagnosis was first made at 12 weeks into the pregnancy.

The pregnancy was going well, but during Lauren’s regular monthly sonogram at 36 weeks, Rinehart noticed that Lauren’s amniotic fluid level was low. Instead of going home after the sonogram, she was admitted into the High-Risk Obstetric unit in the Margot Perot Center for Women and Infants at Texas Health Dallas. Caleb Schnepf was born the next morning at 2:42 a.m.

“I wasn’t prepared for an early delivery, but all of the nurses made me feel very at ease,” Lauren said. “I was terrified that they would take Caleb away for all kinds of tests or focus on what was wrong with him, but it was the complete opposite. We were showered with congratulations and well-wishes, just like any other delivery.”

Even though he was an early delivery, Caleb was not checked into the neonatal intensive care unit. Instead, he and Lauren stayed in the Postpartum Unit at Texas Health Dallas, where Lauren was cared for by Postpartum nurses and Caleb was cared for by the nurses from the Newborn Nursery.

Due to his prematurity, Caleb struggled to eat successfully. The Newborn Nursery staff focused on helping Caleb successfully complete a feeding through a number of techniques, such as changing the nipple to a slow flow, pacing his feeding and repositioning his body. Every three hours Newborn Nursery staff worked one on one with Lauren and Matt to get them involved in the process.

“Once, when I slept through a feeding with Caleb, registered nurse Cyndi Kelley told me not to worry and that the Newborn Nursery staff would take care of him. They were later so excited that they got him to take an entire bottle. They were such cheerleaders for Caleb. You could tell they were genuinely proud of him for finishing that bottle,” she added.

Lauren was discharged after several days of care, and in order to give Caleb a little extra time to master the art of eating, Caleb transitioned to the hospital’s Special Care Nursery. The Special Care Nursery is a unit designed to let babies like Caleb have a little extra care before being discharged.

Lauren found the nursing staff in the Special Care Nursery to be amazing. The nurses sensed that the Schnepfs were ready to take their new baby home and to do whatever they could to help things along. Lauren also recalled how loving and nurturing the nurses were with Caleb and how they all wanted to see how he was doing.

After just six days in the hospital, Caleb went home with his parents. The family still returns to Texas Health Dallas on occasion to visit the team that was so compassionate and supportive.

“The whole time we spent in the hospital, the care felt very human,” Lauren said. “I didn’t feel like I was just a patient.”

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