SPOKANE, Wash. - Jace Dunham is only a few weeks old, but this baby already showed off his big personality.
His mom, Desiree Dunham, will spend every day by her son's side at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, in Spokane.
"He absolutely loves his hands and face," Desiree Dunham said. "He is very feisty. He is very alert."
Life for Jace Dunham started out in an unexpected way.
“It was different and scary,” Desiree Dunham said.
This mom was admitted to the hospital when she was 23 weeks into her pregnancy. This was her third child and heading to Sacred Heart was not what she had planned.
A full-term pregnancy lasts between 39 and 40 weeks, so it was concerning when her son was born at about 26 and a half weeks. He weighed just one pound and 15 ounces.
Babies born early, like Jace Dunham, aren't rare at Sacred Heart, according to the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse manager Melissa Gassett.
“Babies are just getting smaller and smaller all the time,” Gassett said.
That's why Sacred Heart's NICU has machines many call giraffe beds.
“It's a special bed for our babies born very small,” Gassett said.
The goal is to keep the newborn in that bed as long as they need to be. The beds are specially designed to mimic a mother's womb, so doctors can control factors like temperature, humidity, and light.
The beds also have large drop down doors to give staff quick access to the baby. There's even a built-in scale and x-ray tray.
“They're very important to use because they help us be able to provide the best care for these babies. This technology has really changed the life of a small baby,” Gassett said.
It's helped change the experience for new parents to, who oftentimes can't hold their child for weeks and even months.
But the giraffe bed includes a place for parents to put their arms into the covered area so they can touch their baby.
Although her son had an unexpected delivery into the world, Desiree Dunham is cherishing every moment and looking ahead to the big future her son has ahead of him.
“He's definitely a fighter. He's strong. I feel like he's got this,” Desiree Dunham said.
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