Jason Postma, Sr. says his 9-month old child, Jason Postma, Jr. is a happy baby, but just 9 months ago, he didn't know if his baby boy was going to live.
"He was born two months premature, emergency c-section,” Postma said. “The doctor didn't expect him to make it when he was born, my wife's uterus ruptured, so it was an emergency and they took him early in the morning, he went right into the NICU, from there, he's 9 months old, 18 pounds and doing great."
Postma joined with many other families in Bakersfield for a reunion at the very place where their babies' journey began.
"For us to see them again, it lets us know that we're doing a very special job,” says Janet Babb, a clinical manager at the NICU. “To see them grow and mature, it's just heartwarming."
Nurses met with parents and their babies at San Joaquin Community Hospital. Its NICU not only treats babies born prematurely, but kids born with respiratory disease and other illnesses. Monica Lopez’s daughter was born when San Joaquin’s NICU first opened 3 years ago. She came 2 weeks early and had gestational diabetes, jaundice and low blood sugar.
"It was hard having to go home and not take her home,” said Lopez, who had all her three children at San Joaquin and one on the way. “Having to see her everyday at the hospital was sad.”
She and many of the families at the reunion say they'll always be grateful to the NICU staff.
"It's a good feeling knowing that all the kids here have been in the NICU,” Lopez said. “When you say NICU, it's like something that's bad but they're all healthy."
Postma agrees. He’s a respiratory therapist and knew the challenges his son could’ve face.
"It's just great, they didn't expect him to make it,” Postma said. “And he did, and now he's getting big and we're just glad to be here and we're thankful for everything the nurses did in the NICU for him."