Princess Bostick was having a normal pregnancy until last Oct. 31, when she felt some light pressure in her stomach area.
At the time, Bostick was 28 weeks pregnant. She was about to get a Halloween surprise.
The “light pressure” turned out to be real. Doctors at Albert Einstein Medical Center scheduled an emergency Caesarean section.
“There were no signs he was coming early. Everything seemed normal,” she said.
Preston Edward Bostick weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces at birth, and the plan was for him to remain at Einstein to get strong enough to go home with his mother and grandmother, who live on the 6100 block of Hegerman St. in Wissinoming.
By Nov. 11, though, Preston was suffering abdominal pain and was transferred to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
There, the boy was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, a potentially fatal disease.
“I didn’t want to believe it,” said his mother, who immediately began Googling the disease and now knows quite a bit about it.
The new mother discovered that necrotizing enterocolitis is a gastrointestinal disease that attacks premature babies within the first two weeks of life. It’s characterized by infection and inflammation that cause destruction of a portion or all of the bowel.
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The disease affects 1 in 2,000 to 4,000 neonatal intensive care unit admissions and can be treated with antibiotics in some cases and surgery in more serious ones. It’s the most common and serious gastrointestinal disorder among hospitalized preterm infants and particularly impacts babies weighing less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces.
Preston endured three surgeries on his intestines and an upper-body procedure, but also received expert medical care, plenty of prayer and constant love and attention from his mother and grandmother. Today, he is home and faces a bright future.
“He’s a miracle,” said his mother, 24.
After a couple of days in a transition room at St. Christopher’s, Preston went home on May 30, weighing 15 pounds, 2 ounces.
An electric Christmas star stayed lighted on a wall at his home, beginning on Dec. 1.
“I said it would burn until Preston was released,” said his grandmother, Leah Bostick. “Nothing tops this.”
The infant is the first grandson for Leah Bostick, who has five granddaughters, and she is expecting him to continue to make improvements by leaps and bounds.
“He’s going to get cereal before June is out,” she said, adding that he’ll also taste mashed potatoes and gravy “soon.”
Preston, who now weighs 17 pounds, will receive 12 hours of nursing care every day, as long as he needs it.
The baby will also receive 24 hours of loving care from his mom and grandmom. Princess Bostick was laid off last summer from her job in benefits administration and hopes to return to school. Leah Bostick, who has experience in real estate and as a waitress and personal care assistant, is looking for work.
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With the worst over for Preston, his mom and grandmom can relax more, now that he is home and not in the NICU.
“The anxiety and stress were unbearable,” his mother said. “Surgery days were rough. I was pacing the floor.”
The women credit the St. Christopher’s staff for offering medical care for Preston and emotional support for them. Dr. Grier Arthur was the attending pediatric surgeon.
“He’s the man,” Leah Bostick said.
The surgeries were a success, including procedures that removed the baby’s colon, fixed a hole in his bowel and saved much of his small intestines, despite extensive inflammation.
Preston was taken off a breathing tube on Feb. 12, and his grandmother celebrated in a big way.
“I drank a whole bottle of wine,” she said.
The Bosticks also credit Dr. Endla Anday, clinical director of neonatal services at St. Christopher’s, along with nurses, for saving Preston’s life. The ladies spent so much time at St. Christopher’s that they became friends with security guards and cafeteria workers, and some hospital staff and visitors thought they worked there.
Preston’s long stay was necessary, according to his doctors.
“He worsened over the course of five or six days. I didn’t think he would survive, and I told his mom that,” Arthur said of a Nov. 25 examination of the boy.
Arthur said Preston must avoid infection. He’s hoping the youngster can transition off intravenous nutrition in the next few months.
Anday described Preston as “acutely ill” when she first saw him. She complemented his surgeries by getting oxygen to his lungs and blood. Once the lungs and airway were clear, he was able to be taken off the ventilator, which the doctor said is “ninety percent of the battle, from our perspective.”
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Going forward, Preston will need to avoid respiratory tract infections, according to Anday. She believes he’ll benefit by being with his mom and grandmom in a nurturing, positive environment.
“He’s obviously very much loved,” she said.
Leah and Princess Bostick rent a home owned by a relative of the Sales family, of Parkwood. Mike and Fran Sales were parents of triplet boys born in May 2010. One of the boys, Jacob, developed necrotizing enterocolitis and died of the disease.
In April, as Preston continued his recovery, his mom and grandmom attended a benefit in memory of Jacob Sales. The Sales family has formed a charity to raise money for NEC research and NICU needs at St. Christopher’s.
The Bostick women want to do their part to combat NEC.
“I want to get way more involved in terms of prevention,” Princess said.
Leah Bostick has formed the Rainbow of Hope support group for parents of kids with gastrointestinal disorders. The first meeting is scheduled for June 20 at St. Christopher’s, and the group will have wide-ranging goals.
“If parents need lunch, we’ll give them lunch,” Leah said. “If they need a hug, we’ll give them a hug. If they need us to hold their hand, we’ll hold their hand. And if they want to talk, we’ll listen to them.” ••EndFragment