Baby goes home from the NICU

After 52 days at the hospital, baby Stefan is strapped into his car seat and driven home for the first time.

 

“He’ll be going home within a half an hour,” the nurse shared with the anxious parents of 37-week-old Stefan Mijatovic.

Mom, Vera Mijatovic, had the bassinet ready at home. She’s had it ready for two months.

Ratko and Vera Mijatovic are all smiles as they get ready to take their newborn son Stefan home from Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Friday, May 8, 2015. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Ratko and Vera Mijatovic are all smiles as they get ready to take their newborn son home after he spent nearly two months in the NICU. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)

After watching her little guy grow in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, she was more than prepared. She even had the carpets cleaned in advance of her little guy coming home just in time for his first Mother’s Day.

In the early months of Vera’s pregnancy she was diagnosed with cervix incompetence, a condition in which the muscle that keeps the baby inside the mother becomes thin. It can make some mothers-to-be go into labor early and deliver prematurely.

Doctors tried medication to stop the labor process, which helped for about 10 weeks, but Stefan was on his own timeline and ready to enter the world.

Stefan arrived prematurely at 29 weeks and spent nearly two months in the NICU.

Doctors and nurses said he had some feeding intolerance initially, but after working through those issues, he gained strength.

“We are really excited and can’t wait for him to come home,” said Vera, Stefan’s mother, as they waited for the green light on Friday afternoon. “This is like his first graduation and we are ready to have the ceremony and to take him home. His little sister, Duska, has been singing to him when she visits and can’t wait to see him, too.”

Little Stefan Mijatovic holds his mother Vera’s hand in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Friday, May 8, 2015. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Little Stefan Mijatovic holds his mother’s hand. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)

Little Stefan spent 52 days in the NICU.

Vera and her husband, Ratko, carved time out of each day to devote to Stefan, despite juggling extremely busy work schedules and another 3-year-old child at home.

“It’s been very hard for my husband as he’s been working overtime these past few weeks, but even after working 12-hour shifts, we always find the time to come see Stefan,” Vera said.

The Mijatovic family hails from Bosnia and has been living in Wyoming, Michigan, for the past 17 years. They both found their way to the United States in the 1990s when civil war broke out back home. Luckily Ratko had family here in Michigan to help in relocating.

They’re grateful that when little Stefan came to be, they had a world-class children’s hospital nearby.

“We are so lucky to have Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital here in our community,” Ratko said. “We see some families traveling here every day to see little ones from very far, and know we are lucky to live so close. The doctors and nurses at the hospital have given our family wonderful care and we can’t thank them enough for their hard work.”

Ratko and Vera Mijatovic leave the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with their son Stefan. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Ratko and Vera Mijatovic leave the NICU with their son, Stefan. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)

Both mom and dad said they are extremely lucky to have family and neighbors who have been so helpful, too. Neighbors offered to do whatever was needed, including offering rides to the hospital while Ratko worked long hours, or even mowing the family’s lawn.

“It’s so very nice to live in a community that cares about each other and to have neighbors so willing to help,” Vera said.

As for Mother’s Day, both mom and dad say they plan to celebrate in low-key style and enjoy their entire family finally being under one roof.

It’ll definitely be a Mother’s Day to remember for this overjoyed family.

 

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